Author Archives: geezerbluesoflondon

About geezerbluesoflondon

Writing and Music are my passions. I have been honing both for over six decades now. I was born in London, England but spent most of my life growing up and being educated in Canada. In 2006 I moved back to London, England where I worked at a music shop then taught music from my studio in Kent. I then sold the house and studio and moved on to a narrowboat on the canals of England. I presently live on the boat in a marina in Worcestershire, England. I have 2 published books available from Amazon and Kindle and am about to self-publish my 3rd. I have three grown children. I hope you enjoy what you read in my Blogs.

The Last Blog

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The Last Blog

Blog Number 150 and that’s it. I’ve written all I want to say about my boating life…for now. I could write more about the issues of the day but I don’t want to. Truth be told, I can’t afford to pay for the site anymore. If I find a way to Blog free of charge, I’ll let you know. For the moment, I’m kind of tired of Blogging. I enjoy writing and shall continue to do so.

Life is different in our new marina (been here over 6 months now). Very rural and not as community minded. Most people leave their boats here and only come back to them to check on things or go out on tour. We like staying put for the most part. The trip up here last May was enough travelling to last a good while.

And it’s nearly Christmas. We have enjoyed living near Birmingham. A short train ride from where our boat is moored and we are once again in the big city. I was surprised how much I liked Birmingham. We visited the German Christmas market twice and my best friend bought art supplies from an art shop. Lots of good changes to Birmingham since I was there 12 years ago.

The boat is once again decked out for Christmas, inside and out. Other boats in the marina have decorated too. Quite a sight. I love it. Tonight we are off to a dinner put on by someone in the marina to bring people together. At last, we get to meet more boaters. Beef stew is on the menu. Can’t wait.

How are you all feeling about the world at the moment? So much for peace on earth. Threats of violence at every turn. Even the weather is turning on us. I don’t want to leave on a morbid note though. We need a lot more positive all around us. What are you doing about it? Me? I write and do music. I believe music is a great healing power and a positive influence on us…even the Blues.

At my ripe old age, I plan on bringing more music into the world in 2019. I have a cunning plan. In the meantime, it’s Mince Pie hour and maybe a Christmas movie and then I’ll put on the old Brennan for some Christmas music…even ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ because I’m a rebel at heart. Play it loud and proud my dears.

And that’s all I have to say to you all…for now. Be good to yourselves and to each other. Cheers,

Larry

The Cotswolds

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The Cotswolds
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Naunton, The Cotswolds.

Ever felt filthy rich when you weren’t? Champagne tastes on a beer budget? That would describe an excursion through The Cotswolds in England. Exorbitant prices in a place from the past. Even their charity shops, in any of the quaint villages throughout the Cotswolds, drip with designer fashion and top brand name trinkets. People who live in the Cotswolds give only the finest things to be sold for charity.

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The Abbey in Cirencester.

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Shops in the High Street in Cirencester.

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Market and main Square in Cirencester.

Besides the expensive nature of the Cotswolds, you cannot find a more oldy-worldy, traditional England anywhere else in…well, England. Much of the rest of the country has moved on in time and space. Not the Cotswolds. Every village reeks of tradition and uniformity. Even when a new building goes up, it has to fit in with the traditional setting. It’s the law of the Cotswolds. Even the myriad sheep that fill the fields throughout the area look oldy worldy. Their bleating is in old English…or, in this case, old English sheepish.

The first thing you notice entering the area known as the Cotswolds (means Sheep Hold on Rolling Hills) are the fields and stone walls dividing and intersecting them. I can’t imagine the amount of work and time it took to build all those stone walls. Teams of peasants digging up stone and piling them on top of each other mile after mile after mile. More than 4,000 miles of stone wall fences. Incredible effort. Most are still intact.

Every scene is glorious and every village perfectly pretty. The same golden-yellow coloured stone for the houses and shops. Quaint and quirky shops that sell everything from antiques to apples. They are big on cider in the Cotswolds. Where there are no sheep, there are apple orchards. You can smell them in the autumn from miles away. I love the ciders they make here. Many flavours and always crisp.

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Chipping Campden. The old market.

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Chipping Campden. Inside the old covered market.

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Chipping Campden. The main drag near the cenotaph.

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Chipping Campden. House front with flora.

My own excursions through the Cotswolds are dependent on other people. I don’t drive in England and my Canadian permit is out-of-date. Thanks to our good friends Deb and Tony…the ones who helped us move to our new marina…we have seen quite a bit of the Cotswolds since arriving. They have both lived in the area for years and know just about every nook and cranny in the region. Good people to know if you want to see everything the Cotswolds have to offer.

Traditionally, the Cotswolds begin at Stratford-upon-Avon in the north and end at Bath in the south. Most of the area is in the County of Gloucestershire. But some spills into Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. That’s a lot of shires…big territory. Fields, wooded areas and villages. The main centre is Cirencester. Got my hair cut there once, by a guy who spoke not a word to me as he worked on my head. I tried, but…nothing in return. Good haircut though. Took 10 years off my age…or so I was told.

Interesting names of some of the villages. Bibury, Burford, The Slaughters, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-water, Wotten-under-Edge, Chipping Campden and Chipping Sodbury, Guiting Power and Temple Guiting, Moreton-in-Marsh, Painswick and Broadway…to name a few. each has its own flavour, but all of them are unmistakably Cotswoldian. I have visited some of the above and driven through a few others. The defining feature of each village? A great pub…sometimes several.

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The main drag in Broadway. My daughter and my friend Deb window shopping.

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More window shopping in Broadway.

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An ale in Broadway. It doesn’t get any more English than this.

Bibury is probably the most famous. It features a row of cottages known as Arlington Row that once housed the weavers who worked the local wool. It has become the face of the Cotswolds. People come from all over the world just to have their photo taken near these old cottages. When I visited, bus loads of Japanese tourists were about. They even come here to have their wedding photos taken. I saw three Japanese couples. Apparently, the Emperor Hirohito stayed here once and now it’s like a Japanese shrine. Life is strange.

The historically listed houses along the main drag have had to put signs on their garden gates to keep tourists out of their front gardens. It seems the folk from the Orient thought all of these homes were part of some big museum and botanical gardens…they are lovely. The signs are in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, politely telling all who would think to enter that these are private homes, please keep out.

My youngest daughter, who lives and works in Shanghai, China, came to visit in the summer. We took her on a tour of the Cotswolds. It was a very hot day. We started at Broadway, in the north of the Cotswolds. A beautiful town with a, you guessed it, broad street running through it. Shops of every description on either side, full of quaint and unusual items, along with various cheeses, fruits and teas from hither and yon. A step back in time.

We drove through the usual villages, including Winson, one of my favourites with its very narrow streets, unusual wall shapes and a thatched roof cottage. In Bibury, I took my daughter to see the row of old cottages and she began to look bored. Too much beauty in one day can overwhelm. She told me it wasn’t boredom, just another gorgeous site that seemed to be everywhere. She was wearing out with all the ooing and ahing. Besides, the heat was getting to us.

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A home in Winson.

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Narrow street in Winson.

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Thatched cottage in Winson.

At Bourton-on-the-Water, the stream running through the middle of this most picturesque village was crowded with people trying to stay cool. Groups of young people, dressed like hippies from the 1960s, a couple of them playing guitars, sat on the grass along the stream. Suddenly, a hippy jumped into the middle of the stream and began running through he water, chased by some other hippy friends. History repeats.

On another occasion, I went with Deb and my best friend to Chipping Campden (silent ‘p’), just above Broadway. Lovely old market town with a very long High Street, again with too many shops to mention, even one that sells many different gins from all over. The ladies spent a lot of time in that shop. We had lunch at an old pub up the road…there are so many…and did another walk-about. Everything, even the traffic, moves slowly in these Cotswold towns and villages. The way life used to be.

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Arlington Row in Bibury.

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Arlington Row from the main road in Bibury.

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Listed houses with sign on gate to keep out tourists.

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The old bridge in Bibury.

I’m sure I’ll visit more places soon. There’s the Broadway Tower and more villages to explore. One of my musical heroes lives in the Cotswolds. Steve Winwood runs a charity music night in Northleach each year. I have followed his career since the 1960s. Before the concert began, I saw him standing alone at the back of the church in Northleach where the concert was held. We spoke for an hour about life and music. He told me he had recently turned 70 and thought it may be time to slow down a bit. He certainly lives in the right part of the world to do just that.

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Yours truly at a pub in Bibury. A pint or two on a hot day.

 

 

Tennis Anyone? Anyone?

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Once upon a time, I was a decent tennis player. Once upon a time, I was decent at a lot of things I wouldn’t dare start up again. It gets to the point where you begin forgetting more than what people half my age know. And don’t tell me that it’s like riding a bike, you never really forget. I tried riding a bike a couple of years ago and had forgotten everything. I wibbled, I wobbled, I got off and I walked.

Age has something to do with it. It does for me anyway. It’s not that, at this stage of my life, a little practice would help the memories return…both mental and physical…I just don’t care if they don’t. Too many other things have taken over in my life to push those other things right out of the way. Anything requiring too much physical exertion is out as far as I’m concerned. You know the expression, ‘I’m getting too old for this shit’ ? My mantra.

I have managed to put my considerable mental efforts into writing and physically by keeping myself on top of learning new guitar techniques. Lots of finger exercising. I am not one of those who sees growing older as a time to keep pushing the boundaries to prove I am still young and fit. This happens in part because I drink beer/ale and wine and enjoy good food, desserts and all. The other night a few of us went out to a lovely pub in the middle of nowhere Gloucestershire, The Glasshouse Inn, for a meal, before driving into Wales to see a Blues band. We know the players.

The setting for the Glasshouse is beyond magical…except for those ubiquitous wasps (not English people, the bee)…in a setting where you expect to see faeries at the bottom of the Inn’s garden. The point is, the food is great and the ales are fine. I had ribs, a pint of pale ale and for dessert, Eton Mess. Calories? I know not the meaning of the word. Not when I’m enjoying myself. Off to Monmouth just inside Wales to listen to a set of The No-Parking Blues band. I am a Blues aficionado. My dad got me started when I was a young lad.

Music aside, the point of the above is about being overweight and out of shape. Had I been in charge of human evolution, I would have developed our bodies for eating and drinking anything we like, relaxing, never putting on weight. Such is not the case. When I turned 60, everything I ate seemed to go to my middle. I don’t care about reasons why this happens. It’s just not right. All I know is it happens and the only way to stop from exploding is to cut back on intake and keep on the move. What to do?

You’ve probably all heard about fitbits. They look like watches and track your daily activities, the more expensive ones even telling you how you slept. Not cheap. And very annoying. Everyone has to reach at least 10 thousand steps each day to remain healthy. It even tells you how many calories you’ve used. My best friend wears one. I refuse. I don’t need to spend over £100 to tell me if I’ve had a bad night’s sleep or not been as active as I need to be. Just another way to make money for the big boys while instilling in us another round of stress and anxiety.

My best friend was given a space in an old toll house (17th Century) in Lea, Herefordshire. It’s one of the reasons we moved our boat from Apsley marina in Hertfordshire to Droitwich Spa. From here, we are only a 40 minute drive to the studio. The old toll house is on the property of a dear 85-year-old woman, a retired medical doctor who tells you like it is. She loved the idea of an art studio in the unused toll house. Also on the property is an old tennis court, constructed in 1909, resurfaced once in 1980 and now overgrown with moss and the surrounding bushes. A high fence still surrounds the hard court and the net is in remarkably good shape.

We had been staying with our friends Tony and Deb at their place beside the doctor’s. We had to walk across her driveway to get to the studio. We still had our tennis racquets as did Tony and Deb. We had permission to use the court. The next step, after inspection, was whether it was worth the effort to clean it up before play. The fitbits said, yes. Out we went with scrapers, hoes, shovels, brooms and clippers. It took us 3 days to accomplish the task, but in between, we got in some tennis.

Well, I call it tennis. We played on a court with racquets and balls but none of us, save Tony, had remembered much about playing. We knocked balls far and wide, over the fence, into the apple orchard and into rose bushes we had not yet pruned…a hazard retrieving balls with all those thorns…into the net and sometimes hard into Tony. But we prevailed. We had the bug.

The second day, the lady of the house came out to view the proceedings as we continued to lop off branches and prune bushes. She made her way by Zimmer Frame (Walker) over a little bridge and along the path to the court. She sat awhile just watching, a serious look on her face. I tried to engage her, talking about the moss removal, but she ignored me (nothing really unusual there), staring ahead at the feverous activity taking place with the pruning hook. Tony came over and said to her, “You don’t mind us cutting back a bit, do you?” She replied, “I don’t like anything being cut down in my garden.”

Tony explained that we were just pruning, not cutting anything down. Some of the branches had grown over the court, bending the fence over. He took her on a tour around the inside of the court, revealing the work we had done and how we had basically restored the court to relatively good condition. We all stood waiting for her verdict. Finally, she looked up at Tony and said, “Yes, that’s fine. carry on. Just be careful.”

As she wheeled away back toward her house, I walked up and said to her, “What, you’re not staying to watch the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles final?” She let go a laugh that surprised all of us. And on went the game…well, the ball smashing anyway. Tennis anyone? You may not see it here, but we’re giving it all we’ve got and the fitbits are loving it.

Facebook Killed the Blogger

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Yes, it’s true. My Blogging server warned me that Facebook (FB) would no longer publish anyone’s Blogs as of the 1st of August this year (2018). That was the last straw. My FB page had been hacked several times over the past 6 months, more and more ads were appearing, friends were being censured by FB, they took off the news feed and I have better things to do with my time these days. I know a few FB junkies who are perpetual posters. They must spend hours on the site. I did once upon a time, but no longer.

Social Media gets a lot of press, especially since the Donald came to power. I have a Twitter account but I rarely check it. I had a notice last time I checked that was 6 months old. But at least they publish my Blogs. As does Linkedin. I can’t keep up with it all. Whatsapp, WeChat…I could go on, but why bother? There are so many ways to talk to each other. How did we manage to communicate before all this technology?

For my 67th birthday, my best friend bought me a typewriter. I’ve written a letter to one daughter and am going to write to the second any day now. And then to my son. The only thing I can’t keep up with is where they are living at any given time. One is in Shanghai, China teaching. Another is on the road touring around Canada with one of  her several music personae around and the 3rd lives in Toronto, Canada at various locations according to who he is with and what he is doing at any particular time. I can’t keep up with them, but I try.

I love writing and I love my little Smith-Corona typewriter. I keep a journal…have done since about 1992…I have my Blogs and I have authored a couple of books (published) and am completing my 3rd. The problem with Social Media is that we are limited to a few bites, a few words. I think we miss something if we only read the backs of cereal boxes, adverts on the Underground or labels on food we buy. So many people I’ve met tell me they simply don’t read, either because they are too busy or they just can’t be bothered.

As I get older (and I’m old already according to my kids), I find my tolerance level for most of what goes on in the technological world not only baffles me, it also annoys me. Too much information, most of which does nothing to enhance my wellbeing or my inner peace. I find the more I become engaged with media driven by technology, the more agitated I become. I can’t watch the news without becoming angry. This has as much to do with technological advancements as with content. Information is dispensed in alarmingly rapid bites that serve to fill us with alarm and dread.

I have friends who think the world is collapsing. The evidence? News broadcasts, newspaper articles, adverts, political pronouncements on air (fake news) and TV programs that last for an hour at most, discussing an issue between opposing panelists that has no resolution, no solutions, no constructive outcome, leaving us more confused, more stressed and negative. But something in we humans loves opposing forces going at it in a manner that is quite violent as if a physical fight had broken out. Sometimes it does. Rage is disguised with civil behaviour.

Many of us vie for attention by posting anything that is on our minds at any given time. Look at FB and Twitter. At any given time I can see what you ate for dinner, where you’ve been, who you’re with, what you think about Trump or Ford (new Premier of Ontario), what your state of mind is at any given time, what the weather is doing where you are, your music preferences and dislikes, what illnesses you suffer and what business you promote. Some of it is informative, but I miss sitting face to face with you, laughing for real, crying if needs be and having a pint.

I was supposed to have 396 friends on FB and 760 people following me on Twitter. I only ever heard from about 40 on Fb and I know all of 6 personally on Twitter. Madness. Some say it’s because FB has engineered it that way…which says more than I care to think about at the moment. So many people I’ve known in one capacity or another on FB at least, and I am no closer to them now no matter how many posts we send back and forth. At least publishing my Blogs on FB lets you know what I have been up to in a lifestyle very different to yours. Have you been interested? About 12 out of 396. You want me to hear you. I want you to hear me, but few are listening. My Blogs are longer than a short paragraph or a Meme, a Gif or a joke. Who has time for my thousand words?

But I write because I love it and mostly I do it for me. Anyone reading what I write is a bonus. And so, I came off Facebook…hacked one too many times but let’s not go there…and I’ll find out who cares to read what I’ve written. If you don’t, I won’t be too upset. But please, read something worthwhile. A couple of ‘friends’ on FB would post what books they were reading (you know who you are Claude). That was helpful. My youngest daughter reads a lot. She is always giving me suggestions about what books to read. One of my favourites has been ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye’. A good story and a great read.

My Blogs are going to take on a different thematic direction as well. I’ve done the boat thing to death. I am presently putting together my Blogs on narrowboating into book form. Instead, my Blogs are going to be more about my humorous takes on life. Slices of life. Full circle if you know any of my past. Not as many photos, so you’ll have to read some. I look forward to hearing from you. I value your input. And please look me up if ever you’re ever over here. The pints are on you. Starving artist you see.

Hannah Northedge

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We never met. We had planned to a few times, but nothing worked out. She was terribly busy and I had commitments that kept me on the go. We had one main thing in common. Music. We shared stories about our musical adventures and the kinds of music we loved most. Blues and Soul were our common denominator. She was a woman born too late in time. And time finally ran out.

We met on Facebook, as so many do, 3 years ago. A friend of mine had taken some singing lessons with her and we connected through him. She graciously accepted my friend invitation and off we went. I enjoyed her wit and humour. Her posts were audacious and full of satirical commentary on today’s world. Hannah would love to have lived in an earlier era from the 1930s to the 1960s. She loved the clothing of those days. Vintage clothing shops were her niche.

As was her passion for coffee. Many of her posts were either of her drinking coffee or talking about it. We both love Costa Coffee. Even as a fitness buff, going for walks or a run, she would have a cup of coffee in her hand, videoing the journey and chatting to us about this and that. She loved certain areas of London. Her walks and runs through the park around Crystal Palace were memorable for her love of the place. It was like going on the jaunt with her.

We shared a love of music, the old stuff mostly. The Blues, Motown and Jazz and some of the older, wartime songs. She was over 20 years younger than I am at the moment but she talked as if she was even older than I am. Very youthful and in tremendous shape. She had a way of showing her elegant and sexy self without flaunting it or going over a line. Hannah seemed to me to be as conservative as she was sassy. Such a vivacious personality.

I taught guitar lessons from my garden studio in Kent. She taught vocal lessons. We both had problems with students who refused to pay our fees, hers being considerably more than what I charged. But the principal is the same. Fair price for good services rendered. We bitched about our no-shows and people who took advantage of our good natures, our sense of fair play and all that. Often she mentioned a piece of music that I had either recently played or taught. That would spark another lengthy discussion on Messenger.

Apparently, our Ms. Northedge was a bit of a celebrity. She acted in a film with Elijah Wood and John Hurt, ‘The Oxford Murders’. She sang before the Queen and Tony Blair. She was a trained Classical singer who started up a Blues choir, recruiting local singers to join and enjoy singing classic Blues and Motown tunes. I knew about the choir. She asked me once to come along and try out. But lazy old me never bothered. The rest of her celebrity status, including being a judge on a TV show called ‘Live and Unsigned’, had to do with the gigs she played with her trio at many venues around the country. I knew nothing of this about her. She was, at least to me, never low-key, but down-to-earth as the expression goes and always accessible. It was almost as if she both craved attention and detested it at the same time.

Somewhere along the line, she began talking about an illness that caused her pain and required a complete change in diet. Some may have been privileged to know what it was. She never identified it by name. I imagined it was some form of Crohn’s Disease. She asked advice online from all her followers for things she could eat, recipes for certain foods and later sought advice on how to manage the pain she experienced.

The last year was the worst. She began fretting about her condition and the pain she was in. She said doctors told her she was imagining the illness, but Hannah insisted to us all that it was not in her imagination. She said she needed to have it resolved soon or she would die. Her last posts were a cry for help. She was convinced she was going to die and would anyone please write her story and share it with the world. In one of our chats, she had remembered that I had written 2 books. She said she also enjoyed my Blogs about the boating life. Would I please write her story.

I wasn’t sure at this point if Hannah was losing it or was genuinely ill and undiagnosed. She had a madness to her approach to certain things, like claiming that men followed her, shouting lude and suggestive things to her in public. It all became quite worrying. I was never sure about the mental state of Hannah at times. But I promised her I would tell her story. She gave me the name of her dearest friend, begging me to get hold of the friend if anything happened to her. Then there was silence.

Hannah could do that sometimes. She would come off Facebook and there would be no posts for a time. Then she’d roar back as if it were her fans who had been away. After one of these times, I thought I’d check. I went on her Facebook site and saw that the last Post was the one in which she had more or less said goodbye to all of us. I was reading the many comments added to her post, including mine. People were saying how sorry they were about her being gone. Gone where? Did she leave the country to seek medical help elsewhere?

As I read more comments, things took a sinister turn. I decided to Google her, and there it was. All the newspapers were saying that the female body found at the bottom of the cliffs at Beachy Head was that of Hannah Northedge. I was stunned to say the least. Couldn’t believe it. The articles all said that she had been staying at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne on the south coast of England. Beachy Head has always been a spot where people go to end their lives. The cliffs are high and there is no barrier at the edge to stop would-be jumpers. The hotel is a couple of miles from the cliffs.

Hannah must have been that desperate to have done such a thing. But, if nothing else, it was as dramatic an exit as her life had been lived. Was it mental illness? Was it a disease the medical profession could not detect? A bit of both? I have no idea. I can only hope her family received some answers to those questions after the fact.

I sent a message to Hannah’s best friend, stating that she had asked me to contact her for information for the book I had promised to write. I have not, to this point, heard back. I have the feeling I never will. As far as I’m concerned, this chapter in my own life is concluded. I wish we had met. We had so much in common. Hannah was a force of nature to be sure. Those who spent time with her knew what an amazing person she was. A great sense of humour and a good heart. She shall be missed.

Home Sweet Home

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At last. Settled. Our new home. Same old house (narrowboat) but a new location. Droitwich Spa Marina in Worcestershire. We’ve been here now for just over 2 months. Getting to know the area. But at the moment, as I write this, we have been off the boat and away more than here on the boat. Let me explain.

You see, my best friend has a new art studio (she paints acrylicly). It just happens to be in this neck of the woods and was a long drive from Apsley, where we were moored previously. Now it’s only a 40 minute drive. And, we’re out in the country, surrounded by lots of natural foliage and occasional whiffs of manure.

The marina is part of a working farm near the town of Droitwich Spa. This field, near the canal, kept flooding, so the farmers thought…hmmm, next to the canal. Boaters need a place to moor. Let’s build a marina on this useless piece of farmland. And a good job they made of it too. Complete with a boaters’ lounge. Comfortable space to relax with free TV and everything. There is also a block for toilets and showers…even a bath in one of the rooms. I think we’ll stay.

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The offices and diesel jetty at Droitwich Spa Marina from the canal.

My favourite place is the boaters’ lounge, the top floor of the marina offices and small shop that sells everything from milk to mooring pins. The upstairs lounge has comfortable seating, is carpeted, has a balcony and a TV. A sideboard provides us with free coffee and tea and a sink. I go there to use the free wi-fi and do some writing. Rarely do people come in. But when they do, I get to meet some interesting folk, then they get on with their stuff and I continue with mine.

One day, a family came in…dad, grandparents and two little girls. They all had ice cream. We said our hellos and they went over the other side of the room, licking and slurping away. I was typing away when I sensed a presence. I looked up and there was a small girl offering me a some of her ice cream. I thanked her but politely declined. Boaters are a friendly bunch.

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Boaters’ Lounge looking out to marina.

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Boaters’ Lounge with the coffee and tea bar.

The chap who runs the marina is Nick, the farmer’s son-in-law. He is everywhere at once. I think he has been cloned. He fixes this. He moves that. He is in his enormous tractor hauling a narrowboat to be blacked (read through back Blogs), he’s cutting grass and he is in the office administrating. There is a staff of competent people who do most of the office work. Nice group they are too. Very pleasant. Very helpful. Nick orchestrates all of it, and is off to do 10 more things at once.

Everything we need for boating is available here. Diesel, pump-out for those who have built-in shitters, boat equipment in a small chandlery, gas for cooking and heating, coal or wood for our stoves, water and electrics. I mentioned a toilet block with showers, an elsan point (to empty our shitters) and an enclosed space to get rid of our rubbish. All of the jettys are long and stable. But they are quite narrow. You must have your wits about you when walking the length. Don’t want to fall in the water…again.

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The Glad Victor moored at Droitwich Spa Marina (north end), long, narrow jetty and no boats either side.

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Droiwich Spa Marina from the south end. Shower block to the right of the tree.

The marina is only a mile from town, a good walk and great exercise along the towpath. It spills out onto a park and the main shopping area of town, replete with many pubs and a train station. We walk in, buy our supplies for the day and walk back. It has been very hot here since May. On one trip into Droitwich Spa, I complained that I was hot and tired. “Oh, stop your moaning you baby,” says my best friend. “I’ll get you an ice cream if you behave.” Result.

When we arrived at the marina, there were no boats on either side of us. We loved the space around. Open the windows, look out at the water and breathe. But then they began to arrive. No, not other boaters. Ducks, coots, swans and an unidentified fowl that half quacks and half squeaks. With no boats on either side of us, they can jump up on the jetty and poke their beaks in our window, looking for munchies. On the other side of the boat, the water is wider. That’s when the male swan, a grumpy bugger, sticks his long neck up to the open window and hisses and snaps at anyone who walks by inside the boat. Bring on the other boats.

Our old marina had space for a little over 60 boats. Droitwich Spa Marina has 238 moorings. Lots more people and goings on. We’ve met some of our neighbours. Good bunch so far. One chap even helped my best friend carry groceries back to the boat from the car. He is a hulking sort of chap with a very little dog. It takes all types. We have a couple from Australia who come to England to cruise the canals. One of the boats beside us is used for trips out only. Nice couple own it. We have yet to see the other boat on the other side of our jetty. Apparently, they are out all summer long.

We do have our resident curmudgeon. He is several boats away and grunts when we greet him. So, we stopped with the greetings. One day as he passed, we said nothing but he still grunted. Not sure what that was supposed to be. And, we have the naked lady. She is alone on her boat. She likes to wear nothing as she sits in her boat. I only know because one day I stopped to look at some baby ducks by her craft and she was sitting naked by her window. I stared in utter amazement until she caught me. I have gone past her boat every time since, eyes down, staring straight ahead.

Lots of fowl babies too. Ducks, coots and finally, cygnets. We are the 4th boat from the northern end of the marina. On our first day at the marina, the end corner was fenced off with orange mesh (Nick’s work of course) protecting a nest with 4 swan eggs. The mother was off doing something we guessed. On our way up the cut we had seen plenty of cygnets and so we thought this hatching was probably late. It was, according to the local boaters.

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Swan on nest and a hint of Nick’s orange netting..

We thought the mum was not being attentive enough. It happens. The usual vultures circled the nest…the heron, the seagulls, various vermin and a fox. Somehow the eggs survived. This charade went on for a couple of weeks. We had to leave the boat one weekend, thinking when we came back the eggs would have finally been destroyed. And they were. All gone we thought. Stupid mum. Then, up the jetty beside us where there is no boat (yet) came a mum, a dad (old grumpy Gus) and 4 cygnets. Relief. All are doing well.

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