Day 1000 – #36 Take 101 Photographs – completed

I’m almost at the end of my blog now and there are lots of things that I didn’t get around to completing, which is a shame.  However, there are a lot of things that we DID do that weren’t on my list.  We got loads more done in the garden than I dared hope for and we are really starting to push on with the house.  The Cornwall Countdown is ticking!  So with that in mind – I took some “before” photos of the hall/landing as that’s the major project we are embarking on next.  It’s a mammoth task and one we’ve been putting off for 9 years!  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll do another 1001 blog and completing the hall will be on that one and you’ll be able to see the “after” photos then.  Or maybe you’ll just have to come and see for yourself!  Anyway, here they are:

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Day 977 – #36 Take 101 photos

I have decided to commission a portrait of the dogs.  (No, it’s not my “something frivolous”!)  A friend of mine liked a portrait on facebook and it was fantastic so I had a look at the artist’s website.  Sarah Eden specializes in oil portraits, mainly of pets.  I had a look through her gallery and there was one of a young dachshund that look uncannily like Pedro.  I was hooked.  So I got in contact and she gave me some tips for getting good pictures.  I haven’t heard back yet as to whether they are a good enough quality for a portrait but I like them anyway.

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Day 977 – #36 Take 101 Photos

We’ve just come back from a weeks holiday in Sidmouth.  I went years ago on a day trip with my Gran but didn’t really remember anything about it.  What a lovely town!  We were right near the esplanade and had a small recreation ground near us too which was perfect for the dogs.  A little further up the river, over the ford, there is a great nature park called The Byes which goes all the way to Sidford.  It’s a lovely, tranquil space and perfect for dog-walking.  Although Pedro preferred strutting his stuff along the esplanade each day.  He is an attention seeking hound!

Here are a few snaps from our trip…

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Day 914 – #31 Go on a cruise (including #23, #29, #32, #36 and #43)

Oh yeah!  This is a whopper of a post.  I could have tried to break it down into individual parts but that would end up being quite repetitive so I’ve combined it all into one humungous post 🙂

We’ve been on a cruise.  Granted, it’s not the sort of cruise I imagined when I wrote my 101 things but it was pretty good.  We hired a boat from ABC Boat Hire from their Gailey Marina in Staffordshire (http://www.abcboathire.com/Boating-Holiday/england/gailey-base/7.aspx).  I’ve never been to Staffs before and thought it was much further away than it actually was (only 2 hrs drive – bonus).  We picked up our boat Ivarr last Saturday and have been out for the week.  Our first day was short as we didn’t leave the marina until gone 3pm and we made it as far as Coven.  Here we moored up and watched Ireland thrash Scotland and England beat France to win the Grand Slam.  Good start to the week!

Sunday dawned clear and sunny and we had a lovely cruise along the Staffs & Worcs as far as Napton Junction where we did the world’s shallowest lock “down” on to the Shropshire Union.  This was literally to accommodate an inch difference in water levels!  According to a helpful local – the reason for the lock was because the two canals were owned by different canal companies who each didn’t want the other nicking their water!
Onwards from Napton we stopped at Brewood for a lunch break.

brewood 2 brewoodBrewood is a very, very pretty little village.  We stopped at the Bridge Inn for a drink and had a wander round the village itself.  A quick shop in the co-op and then back on the boat to carry on.

We moored up for the night at Norbury Junction.  Other than a pub, a cafe and a Hire Boat Yard there wasn’t a huge amount here.  A few houses scattered about – one of which had a flock of birds in the front garden that wandered out onto the main road.  Mark though they were very small turkeys or quails- I wasn’t so sure.  Following a quick google we discovered they were Guinea Fowl!

 

 

market draytonDay 3 was very cold and grey.  No break in the cloud at all which made it hard going.  Our next stop was Market Drayton (#32 5 New Places).  The wharf reminded me very much of Hungerford wharf so it was looking promising.  There was a footpath leading from the canal to the town centre so off we went.  It wasn’t like Hungerford.  I think that once upon a time MD would have been very nice indeed.  However, it’s a bit run-down and sad looking now.  Within a hundred yards of eachother you had an Iceland, 2 bookies and a Greggs.  That kind of summed it up for me.  Undaunted, we went in search of liquid refreshment… The first pub we came across had a couple of unfriendly looking men smoking outside the front door, barring the entrance and glaring at us – so we gave that one a miss.  The next had a sign out saying Dogs Not Welcome, so we skipped that one too.  We then found The Tudor House Hotel.  tudor houseWhich looked nice from the outside.  So in we went and found lots of old ladies drinking tea and Escape to the Country on the TV!  Not what you’d expect in a normal bar.  Little did we know, this was no normal bar!  The conversation went like this:
Mark: Can I have 2 pints of Guinness please?
Landlady: We don’t Guinness I’m afraid.  We don’t have much beer.  We’ve got lager?
M (slightly stunned): Ok, can I have a pint of lager and a gin and slimline tonic then please?
L: We don’t have any slimline is normal ok?
M: Yes fine. (getting fed up)
L: Oh, we don’t have any lager either.  I have some bottles.
M: Seriously?!  Ok, I’ll have bottle of Peroni.
L: Ok, here you are.  That’s £8.05.  Do you have the 5p I don’t have any change!
Complete and utter farce.  The Dubliners summed it up perfectly – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJW19nlzb3Q
We decided to go back to the canal and visit the Talbot which is on the cut.  Only to find that they don’t open on a Monday!  Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.  So we left and set off once more.  We spent the night moored up just above Adderley locks ready for the descent into Audlem.

Day 4 dawned.  Still cloudy but nowhere near as cold as the wind had dropped.  We made good time through 20 locks and several miles to bring us to the visitor moorings at Audlem.  audlemThe Shropshire Union Canal is quite different from other canals we’ve been on.  It’s like a motorway canal – huge cuttings and built up banks to make it as flat as possible.  Even after descending the locks into Audlem, the canal towered above the housing and surround fields.  It was very odd.  Audlem itself was lovely (#32 5 New Places).  It had a very pretty church, several pubs (more of which in a moment!) and some useful and more unusual shops.  It was lunchtime and locking is apetite inducing so we went in search of food.

bridge inn#29 Go for 12 Meals – The first pub we found was The Bridge Inn which welcomed dogs with open arms!  It even had a carpet for Pedro.  Perfect.  We ordered some drinks and a packet of crisps for the dogs.  I chose the lasagne and Mark went for the Cowboy burger.  It was massive!  It was a big, fat beef burger topped with bacon, cheese AND onion rings.  My lasagne was lovely – just the right size portion and plenty of meat.  We left feeling totally contented and carried on along the canal where I deposited Mark and the dogs in the Shroppie Fly pub (bar actually made from an old Shropshire Fly boat – http://www.shroppiefly.com/photo-gallery-5866.html) while I went next door to Audlem Mill.
shroppie flyYou can see the mill in this pic – it’s the red brick building just past the Shroppie Fly.  It’s a converted mill which houses a fantastic canal shop and a huge range of craft supplies.In addition to this, it had an art exhibition which is what I wanted to see (#23 Visit an Art Exhibition).  The exhibition was in association with the Guild of Canal Artists and was pictures of the canal in various different forms and media.  It was fabulous.  You had a whole range of images depciting the very different moods from the canal.  Some were bright, sunny, chocolate-boxy water colours and others capture the murk and mist of a cold morning beautifully.  There were even some more abstract/pop-art style pictures which weren’t to my taste but made a good contrast to the other works on show.  See here for more info about Audlem Mill – http://www.audlemmill.co.uk/index.html

Audlem marked the turning point in our week and so having gone down and back up the final 4 locks we were ready to set off on the return journey.  On the way back we stopped in different locations (mooring at Goldstone Wharf one night, Gnosall for lunch and Wheaton Aston the next day) and then got back to the marina late on Friday afternoon.

We had a brilliant trip out – boating holidays are very restful pastimes (if you don’t try to do a cruising ring!) and for most of the time we didn’t have any phone or TV signal.  Luckily we were prepared for that and took appropriate ways to pass the time.  Books, DVD boxset, puzzle books, playing cards and….. a colouring book!

DSC_0106 DSC_0107#43 Complete 3 Boat Scenes – This is my “Cool Canals” colouring book.  A book with loads and loads of canal images to colour in.  Some are abstract – just patterns.  Others such as these are actual scenes.  I had great fun doing these two and will look forward to completing more of them.  Get a colouring book – they rock!

Along the way we saw lots of wildlife – ducks, moorhens, storks and even lots of kingfishers.  It’s not easy to take photos of wildlife when you are moving along on a boat but here are a selection of photos that I took:

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Day 713 – #32 Visit 5 new places and #36 Take 101 photos

We have just come back from our holiday and so I’ve now got a chance to update on all the things I’ve been able to tick off my list 🙂  Starting with #32.  We went to Fowey in Cornwall.  We’ve never really been anywhere on the south coast of Cornwall at all so this was a new departure for us.  We went to various beaches and little hidden coves but for the purposes of this entry I’ve counted it as two new places – Fowey and Charlestown.  Within Fowey we also visited Polruan, Bodinnick, Lantic Bay, Frog Prince Cove and Par Beach.  All of which were beautiful.  Charlestown is a funny little place with an Historic Port where they have tall ships and you can wander round within the harbour and look at the ships.  As with a lot of places in Cornwall, we weren’t allowed on the beach with the dogs but tbh it wasn’t much of a beach anyway – very stony.

Fowey is a great little town with loads of lovely shops and proper, traditional pubs.  On our first day there we went to the first ever Cider & Sea Shanty festival at the Safe Harbour Inn which was great fun.  We saw a band called The Stowes who hailed from Padstow and played a mix of Irish & tradtional Cornish Folk Music.  This pub was opposite the house we were staying in so it made for a noisy first night….  We had some really good food and even managed to fit in a visit to Falmouth to see my Auntie Barbara and her partner Rob.  They took us out for lunch at the beach cafe at Gyllyngvase beach and we had a nice walk back along the beach and up through some woodland too.  Great fun.

Here are a selection of photos from the week:

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Day 272 – An apology

Sorry, sorry, sorry.  I know I said I’d post more regularly on this blog but it just hasn’t happened.  The last few months have been absolutely manic, both at work and at home.  We have been working like demons to get the patio ready for the landscapers.  They have been and gone and the patio looks fabulous!

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As well as that we have been out on the boat and come back with a huge long list of things we want to do to improve things.  We’ve decided not to sell as we had such a great few days.  We just need to make the effort to get out more.  Now we’ve lost Jake and the chooks that *should* be easier to manage.  Although from now until Christmas is completely stacked out with prior engagements.  Hey ho!  We are also preparing the dining room ready for plastering in November and Malcolm has just had two operations!  So things have been a little hectic.

Anyway, enough of all that.  I have a few updates for you and will try and keep on top of this.  Happy reading 🙂