Tuesday 29 November 2011

Headed "Home"

A couple more pictures from the closing days of living at the Silverwoods. Another shot of the newly decorated kitchen and the new colour "cookie dough" which we described as melted chocolate ice cream. There aren't many colours available yet in the Dulux paint-pod range but this is a nice one. Anyway, Mum's main colour scheme for the Roscommon house looks like being white, which is in the range. That and varnished / oiled wood. Dad likes this scheme as it will be reminiscent of the barge!

The other picture is of the current main blogging laptop after it was hit by a tsunami of tea when little M Silverwood swung the school bag a bit vigorously near the dining room table and took out Mrs S's new, hot, fresh. big cup of tea. The laptop was immediately turned off and dried out, dismantled by Mr S and checked, put back together whereupon it, fortunately, worked. The decorating work is now finished for now, with the skirting boards now varnished, the dado rail gloss dark brown ("bitter chocolate"), some more cookie dough on the kitchen window reveals.

Dad also free-handed some dark brown stripes where bits of dado were missing upstairs (wall cut away to allow for new stairs to loft extension where currently live Em-J and J-M plus rabbits Padfoot and Ginny. These I can smell and hear from the main landing but frustratingly cannot get up the ladder-cum-steep-stairs to get at them. Anyway I am generally restricted to the ground floor by the stairs gate at the bottom of the stairs following rumours the other day that it might have been me poo-ing in M's room.

Ah well, as I said, coming to the end now of our stay at Silverwoods. Tomorrow Dad flies 'home' to Gatwick and we are left in the capable hands of the Silverwoods who are joking (we hope) about painting us different colours. It's been a nice three weeks with plenty to do and lots of variety. For Dad, too, a nice chance to work hard and feel useful after the weeks of knocking around playing Scrabble at Pud Lady's. Soon it will be the full and final proper emigration date, when Mum and Dad catch the ferry back again and we are all Irish residents. Shortly after that Dad will organise the "Big Green Lorry" boys (see earlier posts) to bring our "stuff" over and we will then be all moved and ready to start Project Erroll in earnest. Erroll, incidentally, is now a pretty redundant name, being (nearly) the name of one of the first houses we tilted at. Should probably be called Project Roscommon!

Incidentally, these moves may make it difficult in the short term to get access to a PC and this blog. We may have to prevail upon Diamond for some lap top time.


Monday 28 November 2011

60's Hippy Chic

As our time living with the Silverwoods draws to a close, the word has gone out "Be Very Afraid". Mrs S has taken to smiling over-sweetly as she says how well she is going look after us when Daddy is gone back to UK and not around to 'protect' us. Haggis seems to be the safest in this respect due to Mrs S not wanting to worry Mum, but there is talk of me being food-dyed pink or lemon-yellow. Even for the H there is rumour of over-tight leather trousers, pierced ear and hooped black ear-ring, black neckerchief and a gold bling chain. Possibly even a black leather hat. For now, as practice, I am resplendent in a cerise cloth flower on a similarly coloured necklace of elastic borrowed from Toddler R, so I am in 60's hippy chic mode at present.

For now the plan is that Dad flies 'home' on Wednesday, with a lift from Mr S to the airport and links up with Mum for the last 12 or so UK days of Mum finishing work, Dad's final AGM as Hort Soc Treasurer, loads of farewell do's and final preparations including the completion by 2CV Llew of the small trailer for the 2CV. Then on the Sunday afternoon and evening (12th?) the big adventure of driving the Fiat, 2CV and trailer back across UK and onto the ferry, followed by the run across Ireland to the Roscommon house begins.

The plan is to park the 2CV at the house and then go racing about in the Fiat signing docs at the solicitors, picking up the keys and then playing house for a couple of hours before heading back down to here and the Silverwoods to re-unite with the other car and spend an evening back here. We get taken to the new house on the next morning for our first explore but we all may end up back at the Silverwoods for the first couple of nights till the caravan gets delivered to the site.

It's all exciting stuff and seems very close now.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Catch Up

A post to catch up a few loose ends and share some recent photos. Yesterday we headed for Blessington in County Wicklow and the superb "Charles Camping" shop, a veritable Aladdin's cave of a place containing every sort of camping gear you could possibly want from big stuff like caravans, tents and awnings, down to the smallest widget. From our point of view a complete success in terms of finally finding the toilet (Ha ha - a "Royal Potti"!), a nice warm sleeping bag for Mum, a table for the caravan, toilet chemical (blue for the loo) and meths for the heater. Lively town too, featuring one main street where everybody parks on rows at 90 degrees to the traffic and many many small-business shops. Not a trace of large-chain card shops, magazine shops, pharmacies or any other chain shops.

Second a picture of the kitchen once it had been blitzed and decorated. The picture of Haggis is also 'blitzed and decorated' or at least shampoo'd a couple of times as only Mrs S knows how so that he's whiter and floofier than he has been for ages. She rinses the dog first using her kitchen sink shower attachment thingy, then jugs diluted shampoo on and massages up to a good lather all over including round the face, eyes, feet and parts. Then the dog gets rinsed before the full strength 'posh' shampoo comes out and we go round again. Finally we are towelled dry in the huge Liverpool FC bath-sheet towels and set to dry in front of the log fire. Inevitably this last stage is via lots of charging round the house rubbing ourselves dry on all available surfaces and other dogs.

Finall a quick shot of Harry the Tortoise inside his tank, having just been given a bag of pillow-pack salad which was left over from one of the meals
That's all for now.

Friday 25 November 2011

Toilets and toiletting

Last night all 5 dogs wind up in the dog house, as it were when we decide to have a pee and poo fest indoors at Silverwoods. It had been raining hard most of the afternoon and evening, so it is thought that the local dogs spent all that time in the kennel, rather than strolling round the yard and attending to doggie business. It is now the routine to let the three of them indoors after the 2 little ones are in bed.

This was 'interesting' at first because of the local three's loony excitement at being allowed in to see us and Dad plus, if you recall, them getting shampoo'd and rubbed dry and because I kept that anti-Rags thing going of growling and shouting from Dad's lap to repel boarders. That side of things has now calmed down a lot and after the first few minutes in all we dogs calm down. I stop shouting and change to following Lily round, trying to play with her and sniffing each others nethers. Coco tries to mount Lily from random directions and Max no longer tries to kill Coco due to having been threatened with the "Mop of Wrath" (Mrs S slapping mop on floor loudly near Max, which tends to stop him attacking Coco immediately!). A variation of this is the Broom of Doom,which is all getting a bit Terry Pratchett and "the folding o' the arms!"

But last night all the dogs came in from the rain and straight way felt, warm, relaxed and moving which must have brought on relaxation down below. The humans spent the next half hour discovering poos and pees with tissues and exasperated shouts "Oh No NOT AGAIN!" There was too much of it to have been just one or even two of the dogs involved - evidence pointed to all three. During the course of this a small hard present of mine was also discovered under one of the beds upstairs. 4 guilty parties and Haggis the only one not yet implicated. Dad joked that he'd wake up soon and feel all left out. "Heh Haggis! How about the hall or the back-room? They've not been anointed yet". Haggis straight away woke up, yawned, smelt the air and presumably thought. 'It must be OK to pee in here now, then', strolled over to the laundry crate and hiked a leg. "NOOOOO!!!! Haggis!" said Dad but Haggis either ignored it or was deaf to it and let go the sluice-gates. Cheers, H, now we're all in the dog house! Everyone's hoping for no repeat today, when there have been sunny intervals between the rain showers, so the outdoor dogs should come in 'prepared'.

While we're on toilets, Dad has been off today hunting for a chemical camping-toilet forr the caravan, but so far to no avail. No problem, the lady at the complete-caravans-only place in Newbridge told us of a place in Blessington, Co. Wicklow.


Tuesday 22 November 2011

Kitchen blitz

Just for fun a couple of pictures of the impressive pizza meal the Silverwood's laid on to reward us all for all the hard work decorating. It came from Mizzoni's of Portlaoise. Impressive. Impressive pile of debris left over too.

The decorating and kitchen-wrangling have now moved on from there. The need to clear round walls for the first cot of paint generated an amount of stuff, some of which is now redundant and Mrs S, excited about her new paint and the started de-clutter went completely bonkers on a kitchen blitz. Mr S was press-ganged into this and the two older girls roped in too.

This is a big kitchen-diner and Mrs S is a well equipped and frequent baker and cook so more than the normal amount of equipment is 'got through'. Food mixers die and get replaced with better ones. The baking trays and tins get replaced by modern flexible plastic(?) ones. Occasional glass or electrical parts of kit break or die and the surviving bits get hung on to in case 'we buy a spare' for the broken bit. Some bits of kit are bought with best intentions but gets used only a few times and then parked. It was all this kind of gear which was de-cluttered and sorted into tough rubble sacks and/or the caravan and/or the bin. All part-processed laundry from the dryer was folded. Em-J and J-M at one stage were balancing along the work tops to get stuff from the tops of upper cupboards.

Anything not glass was hauled down from the glasses cupboards. All cupboards were emptied and the empty cupboards re-assigned to new tidier tasks (this one is for pots and pans, this one for cleaning materials etc.) and the useful keeper stuff put back in its new assigned location. Finally, after everyone else had gone to bed, Mr and Mrs S cleared the worktops and wiped them down so that the place was transformed overnight. And today, finishing touch, the floor has been swept, hands-and-knees cleaned and hoovered. Coco, who likes a nice scavenge around the floor for lost toast etc. under the units, is bereft! Can we have a rest now, Mrs S?

My other picture is of Maxwell post haircut this morning. A bit funky but Dad says it was the best he could do with Mrs S's uncooperative clippers and a pair of scissors.

More soon.

Monday 21 November 2011

Schools Runs and stuff

We are settling into a good routine at the Silverwoods. Weekdays are a succession of school runs with a short spell of peace in between, especially in the rain when the older 2 girls get lifts they would not normally get because Dad offered. It does not seem to have stopped raining since the offer. Even today Dad was just about to shear the sheep-like fleece off of Maxwell, when Max did a superb rain-dance and brought down so much rain that using electric clippers out doors would have been a bit hazardous.

Weekends are for 'activities' for children and events like parties. The girls all go to baton-twirling on Saturday morning and on the most recent one there was a Birthday party for neighbour Emma (11) which involved hired in bouncy castles in a Sports Hall at the school. Impressive towering bouncy castles these. The children were all ages from babes in arms up to 'older sisters' of some of the same-age party-goers, so Em-J was there along with J-M Silverwood, one of Emma's "best mates". J-M then also had a sleep-over at Emma's.

For the grown-ups the main entertainment was painting three rooms using an electric pumped-paint roller thing called a Dulux paint pod, which Mrs S has said "we" can borrow for the Roscommon house when we get to the painting stage. The main plan was to get the two rooms which have had new floors fitted painted before Tommo-the-Builder returns to do the skirting boards, thus saving the job of cutting in round the new boards.

Having got themselves onto a roll, however, they didn't stop, but carried on into the kitchen. This involved a fair amount of clearing space at the walls so that painters could walk about and stand on chairs and thus generated a bit of tidying up. The gang started the work at about midday after a good fried breakfast done by Mr S, but then Mr S had to skedaddle on yet another taxi-run with No. 1 son, so Mrs S and Dad carried on assisted by Em-J on the roller and J-M on the brushes.

The two little ones had been given "Magic paint" (an empty tub) and brushes and their own bit of wall to paint to keep them quiet. Dad thought this "Emperor's clothes" solution would never work but the two little ones got really into it coming back every now and then for more paint, asking grown ups for an opinion of how good their work looked, washing the (non-existent) paint off their hands and even complaining later that they were tired from all the painting. Kept them amused for hours while the grown-ups got on with painting. Didn't work quite so well at the end when the walls had real new wet paint on them, so that kids with dry brushes, on a mission, might still make a mess, but by then M was out with Mr S and little R had moved on to other things. In the last knockings, Em-J disappeared for a bath and was then given the two little ones to bath too! Stitched up.

By 20:30 everyone was tired from the decorating and then tidying away and Mrs S phoned out for pizza. The pizza arrived bigger than two feet across and accompanied by buffalo wings, 2 types of garlic cheesy bread, chicken dips, chips, coca cola and Mars flavoured ice cream.

Get in there!


Friday 18 November 2011

No longer homeless

We head for the small town of Mountrath to collect the caravan which will be our temporary accommodation 'on site' for the hopefully short period that the 'new' house is uninhabitable. For example when we have filled the internal space with the fumes of woodworm treatment and do not wish to suffer the same fate as the woodworm dudes. Dad has no tow-hitch on his car, but Mr Silverwood has a big people carrier suitably equipped, so he has offered to do the collection run. It's a horrible wet rainy windy day and Mr S has never towed a caravan before, but he's brave and up for it.

Dad, being an ill-informed (OK let's just admit to a bit prejudiced) was a bit wary of doing business with our traveller chums, especially cash-in-hand ones, and some of them have accents with very flat vowels and indistinct consonants making them difficult to understand but Mrs S held his hand and all was well. We handed over the cash and the guy (John) didn't even check it (while we were there). Mrs S says they consider it very rude to do so. He also handed Dad a tightly folded €5 note at the end saying "a bit of luck for you". We hitched up the caravan, tested the lights and we were away, Dad following the people carrier and caravan. Mr S did very well for a new boy, keeping well clear of either side and bringing home the caravan through the rain round the twisty lanes with no problem.

Back at the house the caravan was unhitched and pushed (it's very light) up the drop-kerb and into the drive where Mrs S is gleefully anticipating the neighbours horror and curtain twitching as they expect a skew-bald pony to show up next, tethered to the gate post. With the beast home we could all have a look, and all 4 children have had a good old explore. It is nice and clean inside (normal for traveller vans, apparently) all be it with a slight smell of not-used-recently damp and mustiness. We have brought all the cushions and curtains indoors for cleaning and drying out. Dad has been exploring the electrics, gas and all that jazz.

The caravan can be hooked up to mains but Dad can not, for now, work out how you'd do the equivalent to 2CV Llew's system with an old car battery in the gas-locker. No matter. You can buy little battery powered LED 'tube' lights for camping, so if we have to, we'll use those. There is also no loo for the humans to use but there's a biggish shower-room, so we will buy a camping stylee chemical loo 'potty' and that can go in there. Now all we need is for the whole thing to be towed to the new house at some stage and we're 'game on'.

As Mrs S pointed out to Dad, we are no longer officially homeless. We own a home, all be it a van parked on someone else's property.


Tuesday 15 November 2011

Road Test

Today Dad gets to walk we three younger dogs (myself, Max and Lily) up through town and down along the brown-peat-stained Owenass river. This is a nice river, rising in the Slieve Bloom Mountains and flowing down to the Barrow River downstream of here. It's water is clear, flowing over a rocky base (here at least) but with steep grassy banks which are not very dog-friendly as we can't get down for a paddle, but there are one or two places. There's a nice path running all along one side here-abouts so we get a decent walk. The whole walk gives Dad a chance to 'road test' we dogs and he has the following comments.

Maxwell: Very fast and nippy walker who likes to be pulling out front. Makes frequent unpredictable changes of direction, trying to sniff everywhere at once, especially on the early stages of the walk. Hates lorries and rattly trailers but this 'hate' tends to take the form of racing off the pavement and into the carriageway to shout at them, meaning walker has to keep Max on a short lead or lose him under the wheels of une camion enorme. Random direction makes for multiple tangles between the three leads, raising the need every now and then to tread on his lead about 2 feet from his neck while untangling the leads upstream. Also shouts at any dogs we meet who do not show sufficient respect.

Lily: Scaredy-cat walker not yet used to traffic or even the wide open spaces yet, so tends to slink along as close as possible to walkers heels, often actually in contact with the heel as it rises after a step, or slinking half way round the ankle and shouldering the arch of the human foot, causing near-trips. Terrified of big lorries rumbling by a pavement-width away so freezes and tries to shrink into the stone wall to get away. Safe enough but gives the impression she might bolt at any minute (including, possibly, a dash in front of the lorry to get away). Does not start any lead-tangles but closeness to your ankles mean she gets wound up if anyone else does the Maypole thing.

Deefer: Dad is more used to me, obviously but even so, I can add excitement to a three-dog walk by always pulling ahead, urgent to get "there" first even when she has no idea where "there" is. Also known to zig-zag about trying to wrap everyone's lead into a Maypole. Tends to stick nose under any gates or into any openings which might contain dogs and often dives into pavement-side gardens or even houses if people leave the door open.

We didn't take Haggis and Coco today as this was a 'young and fit' walk. Haggis tends to amble along at low speed, preferring to be off the lead ambling than on the lead and being pulled along. He goes faster if you don't try to pull him. Coco, we understand is OK for a while but then goes on strike.

More tomorrow

Monday 14 November 2011

More pics from Silverwoods

Some more pictures from the Silverwoods (and as I look at it I have two identical ones of Haggis and can't click on either to delete it, so that may well be the case when you look too). First up a nice one of the youngest, Lily, who was the one in the shampoo shot which Mrs S told us off for because it looks like she is trying to strangle Lily. This one is all dried off and still alive, so not strangled, OK? We also have one of the H asleep on the sofa with his now quite endearing little pink tongue peeping out between his lips, which is now his way of sleeping.

Finally, one to make Rags jealous. Rags is a great lover of an old cardboard box under the dining table as a sleeping place, all be it now inside a smart new crate which he loves. The older, more disreputable and uncomfortable the cardboard box the better. Well Haggis thinks he'd be impressed by this 'box' which Haggis discovered in the S's kitchen, an old supermarket crate full of shoes. More knobbly a mattress it would have been hard to find. Given that these are mainly old training shoes and sports shoes used by the children, it might also be a tad fragrant to the nose of a dog with sense of smell 40,000 times as strong as humans (or what-ever). I have also been known to climb up onto this box and sleep on it too.

Today though, peace and tranquility have descended upon the house. All 4 children are fit and well and able for school, so all four have been trans-shipped to their places of learning, leaving just Mrs S and Dad with us two dogs for the whole morning. This means it is nice and quiet and peaceful but also severely reduces the chances of pieces of toast, cheese toasty, chocolate bar and crisp falling from the hands of little children in our general direction so that both Haggis and I have been reduced to having to eat our proper tinned food or go hungry. It's not on. Neither do we have any runs to Portlaoise for appointments for Toddler R, so today's jobs for Dad include just laundry-ing and cleaning out the tortoise.

Happy Days

Sunday 13 November 2011

Shampoos all round

Major dog-wrangling last night when all three Silverwood dogs get shampoo'd to within an inch of their lives and then towelled dry before being allowed the run of the house for the evening while we all watched X Factor and X Factor USA on TV (That was a new one on Dad - never watched it before!). Here we have pics of all three enjoying the experience, especially Lily (middle pic) who looks like she has got a taste of the shampoo by mistake.

The Silverwoods have a brilliant set up for such dog-wrangling where the kitchen sink mixer-tap pulls out into a hose long enough to use as a shower on the dogs, so you can do them at standing-up height. Back in Faversham we two were always showered in the bottom of the shower with Dad kneeling down outside and reaching in to grab us.

The evening was entertaining. Max and Coco are of that age and stage where they are both trying to be alpha-male so occasional fisticuffs develop. I am, as ever, a bit precious about protecting Dad's lap from boarders so there's occasional grumblings and snarliness. Lily is young enough and silly enough to romp around through all this, regardless and oblivious to the 'politics' of the grown-up dogs. Haggis tends to try to lie there asleep and occasionally gets bounced on by assorted dogs, so he wakes up with a gruff. The humans just mooch around trying to manage all this.

We all survived. We even went for a walk - Dad, Em-J and J-M plus 5 dogs!

Saturday 12 November 2011

More things dogs know

This living with the Silverwoods is a learning experience for us dogs. We have rediscovered the fact that small children can be generally relied on to be walking around with toast in their hands. I quite like buttered toast although Haggis prefers to put it down on the floor and lick all the butter off it. Children can also be relied upon to drop crisps and other dog-edible bits and pieces around the house. It's a good place to be. Unfortunately this means that when it comes to real supper time we do not have a lot of appetite left and Dad gets a bit concerned that we are off our food. However, it is also true that while I'm messing around um-ing and ah-ing about whether to eat my 'normal' supper from the bowl, all Dad has to do to make me suddenly interested is to let the Yorkie Coco in to the room, and suddenly I am famished and pile through it.


Thursday 10 November 2011

School Runs

Sorry we've done no pictures lately, but we still have a mess of 'junk' in the car and only part of the contents of the C4 are moved indoors. We are all settling into the Silverwood routine now here, with 'school mornings' filled with readying the little ones for school, getting some breakfast into them, making sure they have clothes, lunches, school bags etc. and getting them there. This will all be familiar stuff to anyone with children of their own, of course, but it's all 'different' and a bit exciting to us.

Dad is loving having something real to do after the stir-crazy inducing Pud Lady's routine and being properly helpful again. Mrs S is laid low with flu-ey symptoms, head aches and snuffling, sustained by cups of tea so she's not about to turn down the offer of taxi runs and shopping missions. Also, no-one has yet asked him to play them at Scrabble, which is a major bonus!

The local dogs are growing up fast - when Dad last saw Maxwell he was a boisterous 6 month old and Lily a tiny slip of a pup, just barely old enough to leave Mum. Coco the Yorkie was older but is very slightly built. Now Maxwell is coming up to full size, is a bit less mad but is now bigger than Coco and starting to think like the alpha-male. Their normal home is a nice comfy kennel on the decking in the back yard, around which is a wooden paling ranch fence, through which Coco can still slip if Maxwell gets a bit too much. Lily, being female does not get duffed up by Max but likes a good bark on occasions, so you generally know they are about. We've been out there a few times to say hello, but we are happy to stay 'indoor dogs'.

Ah well. Tommo the Builder is back in today laying laminate in the hall way, with his lad Owen. The two of them are chatting away in the hall among the clatter of sheets of laminate and the occasional rattle of the jig saw. Toddler R (now 4) follows Tommo round like a shadow up till the point one of the power tools start up. She doesn't like that noise so retreats to the kitchen with a pained expression till the saw stops and she can go back into admiring Tommo again.

Happy Days

Wednesday 9 November 2011

We here.

Well, here we are. We (Haggis and I) have emigrated and are now residents of the Irish Republic. Dad has come with us to bring us here and will be heading back to UK at the end of the month to bring Mum and the 2CV and little Fiat over, then we'll be back together again.

We had our last night at Pud Lady's on Sunday night after which we packed everything back into the bags and cases. Dad pulled the plug on the new inflatable mattress with me still on it so that I gradually descended to the floor while breakfasts were eaten. Tom helped carry everything out the car. It just about fitted with us on our dog beds on two thirds of the back seat, a little bit easier than on the original journey down because we had offloaded huge bags of allotment onions and spuds onto Pud Lady. We all bade each other fond farewells and piled into the car. Pud Lady will miss us and the games of Scrabble. The final series score after 64 games was 32:32

We headed first for Faversham where we were left in the caravan while Dad went off to see a private screening of the new Mike Maloney barge film "Red Sails", a veritable gathering of all the great and good of the barge world, from officers in the various National barge organisations, former skippers, the ship wrights, sail makers, barge owners and a fair smattering of the Cambria Trust lot; Dad's crowd! The film was excellent and lasted about 50 minutes after which there was rousing applause for Mike and a question and answer session. Dad came back to the caravan for a kip, setting himself up for the long evening drive to Holyhead.

We leave Faversham at 15:30 sneaking through the Dartford tunnel before 17:00 and missing most of the M25 traffic, but it's a bugger of a journey anyway with massive tail backs on the M6 just before the toll road starts and then more getting back onto the M6 at the end of the toll bit. We stop every couple of hours for a breath of air and a comfort stop in a variety of motorway services. We then hit more trouble when the M56 is closed because a lorry has fallen off a bridge onto the carriageway, killing the driver and shocking a couple of passing motorists. We arrive at Holyhead at just on midnight, tired out. More 'comfort stops' in the car-park waiting to board the ferry.

We sleep in the car for the run across, Dad grabs a cabin on the boat but can't sleep well. By 06:30 we are driving off the ferry and headed SW towards Limerick. By 07:30 we dogs are breakfasting in a farm gateway just outside Emo and by 08:30 we are at Mrs Silverwood's getting welcomed in and causing a certain amount of chaos as we nip out the back for a wee in the yard and inadvertently let the three resident dogs (Westies Lily, Maxwell and Yorkie Coco) through to the kitchen where they get under all the kids' feet as they are getting readied for school. More chaos later as builder Tommo is in the house today putting down new laminate flooring in the living room.

Enough for today, though, as Mrs S wants to unplug me to re-arrange the broad band cabling.


Tuesday 8 November 2011

On Board

Here by the wonders of coin-in-a-slot internet access, I am able to write to you from on board the ferry headed for Ireland. I have to watch the credit dwindling though (7 mins left!) as I write. We had a rubbish journey up through England with big hold ups both ends of the (clear) M6 Toll and then the M56 closed where a lorry had fallen off a bridge onto the carriageway. It took us from 15:30 to just on midnight. No problem, we are aboard now and steaming towards Dublin.

Dad had been to see the screening of Mike Maloney's new film Red Sails at the Arden Theatre in Faversham which he reports was brilliant, and in which Dad even got named in the credits, presumably for helping Mike in the making thereof.

OK , credit's running out
Deefs (04:23)

Monday 7 November 2011

Emigration Day (Dogs)

...and so we dogs make it to our emigration day. It's this afternoon Dad drives us all to North Wales and the Irish Ferries boat and tonight at silly o'clock we sail away to Ireland, headed for the welcoming residence of the Silverwoods. Dad will stay with us there till the end of November, but then he'll fly back without us for the final days in England before returning with Mum, the 2CV and trailer, and the Fiat in convoy. We are not involved in that bit, so effectively tonight is the moment we become Irish residents.

So we feel a bit like a secret radio transmitter behind enemy lines. This is our last transmission from Pud Lady's before we dismantle the 'transmitter', load it into the car and move it to a new location. We've quite enjoyed our stay here and all the nice new walks we have discovered; the Old Town, St Helen's Woods, the Fire Hills, Old Roar Gill, Alexandra Park and the Archery Field etc, although Dad has gone a bit barmy with the games of scrabble with Pud Lady (Series score 32:32 after 64 games. We suspect Dad might have 'thrown' a few games to keep it that neat but we don't want to get embroiled in another betting scandal like the Pakistani cricket lads, so we're keeping schtum.

We enjoyed our final weekend in the caravan with Mum and Dad together, which included inviting Diamond and John (and Rags) round for a supper of pork-bellies on the Saturday. Dad is now off the anti-biotics and has had his stitches out, so he could have a beer or two. Rags loves the caravan and the boat yard just like I do - plenty of places to amble about and sniff, so we're all allowed off leads and we still stick around the caravan as a base. John is especially taken with the place and has been asking questions around how do you come to own or rent a bit of it.

The weather finally gave out - our lovely succession of being able to sit outside of an evening gave way to wind and rain - but no worries. Llew has rigged up a wood burning stove inside the caravan with a welded tube chimney out the side and up to roof height. It even has an inverted saucepan on an aluminium tube bungee'd to the side which you can lower over the chimney when not in use to keep the rain off. Warm as toast, we were.

On the way 'home' we call by the Cambria and agree with Boss-of-Volunteers, Basil, that Dad can sleep aboard when he's back over in December. There is a possible issue with the timings of the sanding and varnishing of the hold 'floors'- actually bizarrely called ceilings in a barge; the floors are the horizontal frames running east-west under what you'd think were the floor planks (and galley floor). He may have to vacate the barge during that process, but there's always the caravan.

Ah well, time now to switch off and take the computer to bits ready to be packed into the car after breakfast for the trip back to Faversham where Dad, at lunchtime, is invited to a screening of the new Mike Maloney barge film "Red Sails" which the Cambria lot have been involved in the making of. From there. later on, the drive NW towards Holyhead and the sail Ireland. Next time I 'talk' I will be an Irish doggie!


Thursday 3 November 2011

Last Week at Hastings

As we come into our last week of living with the Pud Lady in Hastings, here are a few varied pictures just to pick up a few loose ends. First up the relatively new wind farm past which we have to drive en route caravan to Pud Lady's and which now dominates the Romney Marsh scene. This is it from the slope down from the land gate from Winchelsea, so still a good 5 miles off. More accurately it is the "Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm". Next up is Dad's 'brave soldier' wound. Quite impressive. Stitches come out tomorrow. 3rd is a nice shot of the H in the stream at the bottom of St Helen's Woods and, finally, our lovely Vendors in Ireland have sent us this nice shot of the house we are buying taken circa 1900.

Dad had been showing an obvious interest in the history of it and wondering whether the build date would turn out to be, by coincidence, the same as the SB Cambria, at 1906. It seems it might be even older. John the estate agent and one of the ladies we are buying from ("The Three Sisters") are going to try to find out exactly. We loved this picture, though, with its 2 pony and traps and their bowler hatted drivers and everyone dressed up to the nines, being seen off by the black-clad lady at the door (house keeper?).

Dad has had to finish off the Faversham Hort Soc accounts so that he could take them to the auditor. He is hoping to have them back by the time we move (we the dogs, that is; we are 'emigrating' on Monday night 7th/8th Nov) rather than have to sort out any issues at long range. Hallowe'en comes and goes this year without us but we hear from the Silverwoods that they all had a whale of a time. Their costumes looked superb in the Facebook photos and the pumpkin carving was genius.

We all got fed up in the end with the ever-more-leaky lilo airbed which has done several years of 2CV camps and does not owe us anything. It needed re-inflating every day and started to need a top up at 03:00 in the morning too. So we all high-tailed it to the superb camping and caravan shop at St John's Wood, near Battle for a new blow up mattress at £20. We are now sleeping in supreme comfort (at last! Should have done it weeks ago!) and not sinking into contact with the Marley Tiles in the middle of the night. Cold and hard!

Back to the caravan for the final weekend tomorrow.


Tuesday 1 November 2011

Acoustic Architects

Friday night sees us all sorted with medical stuff and arriving at the caravan for the second to last weekend of the traveller lifestyle. We dogs are dumped rather unceremoniously for the evening once we've had our supper, as Mum and Dad are off to see a local folk rock band called the Acoustic Architects aboard the sailing barge Edith May moored in Lower Halstow. They are going with fellow barge-nuts, Dave B and Mrs Dave B. They have a thoroughly enjoyable evening listening to the music, singing along where allowed and shaking 'shakers' handed out for audience participation. Dad's anti-biotics preclude any drink, so he's driving, but Mum can have a glass of wine with Mrs Dave B.

The band cover a huge range of styles, with the electric bass giving the folky stuff a bit of raunch and conversely the accoustic guitars toning down the rocky stuff. They cover folk songs including some of their own stuff and songs by Crosby Still and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, they do Fisherman's Blues (Waterboys), Float like a Cannon Ball, Be Your Baby Tonight, Ice Cream Man and even a Led Zeppelin number. There is a genuine, funny, silly level of banter between the band members and joking with the audience. It's a real blast, says Dad, and in the gorgeous olde-wood surroundings of the barge's main saloon (former main hold). Mum and Dad return starving and there is late night scambled eggs on toast to re-stock before bed.

Saturday is a day for wrangling stuff around the caravan, running errands, visiting the Cambria (now back in port) and, in Mum's case unfortunately, her turn to get injured. Also to get her hair done, prior to the injury. We shop, we buy fresh gas and blue-san and get water for the caravan, Dad digs another toilet-pit and does his thing with the tiolet-cassette. This mostly achieved while wearing what Mum calls "murderer gloves" to protect the bandage on his hand (thin disposable rubber neoprene gloves). It's all a bit Hallowe'en.

Mum's injury comes as she comes from the hair cut down to the barge and misses her footing hopping aboard, falling on her back and elbow across the deck, the fore-horse and the leeboard irons. Her new coat is undamaged outside but gets a smear of blood inside from a bashed elbow. She is shaken and mildly whip-lashed but is a brave soldier. She is fed tea and made to sit down in the galley to recover.

Back at the caravan we are visited by Dave B and Mrs Dave again, who come down to see an old derelict barge, the SB Gwynronald which is moored down there, and by 2CV Llew and his mate Derek, who come down to take the 'Kestrel' out for a couple of hours sailing on the high tide. I get taken off for a nice long walk around the Creek bank. Mum cooks a superb chook risotto and Haggis and I get to share out the bone-ends and gristly bits plus the remaining 'gloop' in the pan.

Sunday is easier - pretty much sitting around reading the papers and then a stroll to the Shipwrights pre lunch. Dad has to attend the Minor Injuries Unit to get his wound checked. Lunch is mackerel and cous-cous salad. After that we part, Mum heading back to Diamond's, we back to Pud Lady's in Hastings for our last week of that.