Tag Archives: Pirates

Caribbean Cruise

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Caribbean Cruise

When is a pirate not a pirate? When it’s me and Eddie in silly pirate hats. Not the look I’d usually go for, but Eddie had two of these costume pieces, so I had no choice. And we had matching green T-shirts with ‘Sun’s Out, Rum’s Out’ on the front, with a Hoola dancing girl on the front. Fake pirates of the Caribbean in Hawaii. Why not eh? Be that as it may, the event we were attending had a Caribbean theme and so, well, the Hoola girls were imports.

Haven’t been on one of those Caribbean cruises. I hear they’re a lot of fun. And I’ve never been to the Caribbean unlike most Canadians and Brits. But that didn’t stop us at our little marina from having a Caribbean night near our boats and beside the canal the other night. Even Cap’n Jack Sparrow and Smee showed up. That would be me and Eddie.  All good stuff.

I’ve written about our boat community before. It’s pretty solid for the most part. Most of us get along. But like all communities and families, personalities can clash and people fall out as they say over here. But enough of reality, let’s go to one Saturday night when the boating community, much of it, came together to celebrate the end of summer in a Caribbean spirit. Rum included.

The evening was the brainchild of the famous Jools who, you may recall from an earlier Blog, had us move her boat up the Cut to get painted. But Jools is a busy gal and so the bulk of the organising fell to the rest of us. And in the true spirit of community, the gang came together to make it happen. But, to her credit, Jools made an excellent rum punch, in a pink bucket no less. Lovely.

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The evening begins.

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The evening gathers momentum. Good neighbours and good food.

Another couple from the Dark Side took care of the BBQs and all the cooking with the help of a young man also from that side of the marina. My neighbour Eddie gave it that name a number of years ago. He says it’s because we get more sunshine in the day than they do over that side. But now it has taken on a more sinister interpretation as being the side where the nefarious and the no-goods reside. They aren’t, of course. It’s just that there’s a higher turnover rate over there and we of the Residents’ side don’t get to know those folk as easily. To be honest, we don’t really make the effort.

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Our chefs, Phil and Andy.

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The Coy and the Bold gather to eat and drink….especially drink.

So, those Dark Side folk become somewhat of an unknown, mysterious bunch who gather over their side every so often….probably to look over to the Light Side in envy and who knows what other dark thoughts they utter. The Caribbean Night dispelled all those ideas we had of the Dark Side folk. Fine bunch of people they are too. In fact, Jools is from that side and she’s nice. The Duck Lady I wrote about way back when comes from there too. The newly married couple have their boat on that side. They’re fine and so, as a matter of fact, are most of them. But there are those mysterious ones you never see and  who skulk about when it gets dark. I occasionally run into one of them in the marina laundry room. They say nothing and neither do I….then I never see them again.

But, anyone who is anyone was there, including some good neighbour friends from the local apartments. Even Keith and Lynn came back from boat retirement to join us. The weather cooperated, much to Keith’s delight. He always had a lot to say about the weather when he lived in the marina and we had missed his daily meteorological comments. Our side was well represented.

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Lynn and Keith (far right) and others.

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The 3 Beauties….Maria, My Best Friend and Jools.

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The 3 Stooges….Eddie, John and Some Guy.

A few were away. One couple decided to go to Prague instead. How dare they! But the dad was there. He had been painting their boat all week and deserved to party. Another couple, our resident actors, were visiting family in Dorset….the nerve. In all, over 50 of us gathered to eat, drink, talk and, after a few, limbo our way through the night. Yours truly thought it best to abstain from the limbo. I feared ending up in traction for months.

Because of the potential numbers, a discussion had gone on for weeks where to hold the event of the summer. In the end, we settled for the area over by the pump-out. That’s where boats go to pump out the human waste that is in a holding tank on their boats. We have a cassette toilet, like in a trailer or caravan, and use what is known as an Elsan Point to get rid of our waste. The couple who did the cooking with the newly married chap (from the other side) parked their boat there. This served 2 purposes. 1st, we could have electric and 2nd, when people had lots of rum punch or whatever, they wouldn’t fall into the marina….not there anyway.

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Apartment friend Sandy and neighbour Mimz.

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Rasta Man, Graham, from the Dark Side.

We couldn’t all fit on the jetty, so we set up, illegally, on the other side of the chain-link fence that separates the towpath folk from our marina. We put up tables, chairs and the booze table on that side. I say illegally because we are not supposed to have alcohol in public outside of the marina. Probably not allowed to have a gathering either. Oh well. But we argue that drug deals go on out here all the time, anti-social behaviour and other unsavoury dealings, including a murder last winter….so a party seemed harmless in light of all that.

We did worry a little about the music we had blasting out from a big speaker loaned to us by our Bouncy Castle owning neighbour who moved into the marina not long ago. We had some Bob Marley and other music related to the Caribbean, all provided by Eddie’s Spotify account. By late evening, Eddie got tired of looking for theme music and moved to his own playlist. Everyone was feeling quite mellow by then and so no one seemed to notice the switch. Besides, the limbo had begun and the hardy were preoccupied with becoming pretzels in public. A good time was had by all.

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AAArrrrrrrrrrrrr

 

Wight England: Part 3; Best of the Rest

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This was to be a 7 part series about the Isle of Wight, but I got bored. Been too long since I was there and it’s time to move on to Lavender fields and Cathedrals. Before I go there, and elsewhere, I have some places and things about the Isle I want to write about.

My best friend and I stayed at an out-of-the-way Air B&B. Along a potholed road, then down a dirt track to a house in the woods with an annex and a beautiful garden. Quite remote for an island home. Not far away, you could hear young voices….many of them….screaming away at the PGL (Parents Get Lost) camp on Little Canada.

Many stories on how it got the name Little Canada. My favourite is about a New Zealander who bought land here, built some log cabins and had an open house day near the end of the 19th century with Sitting Bull, Wild Bill Hickock, a Totem Pole and some Canadian Mounties. The Mounties sealed it and the locals began to call the place Little Canada. The other story is of a Canadian regiment stationed there in the last World War….or was it the First? The locals aren’t sure and no one I checked with could be bothered to find out, me included. So, story No.1 it is.

We never lingered at our home in the woods. Early every day, we’d pass the screaming hordes (yelling from dawn to dusk) to discover other, more refined parts of the island. Never mind the recent ravings of the chairman (yes, they still say that here) of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) who said the Wight Isle had the worst drug and unemployment record of all of Britain, the lowest education standards and the population are all inbred. We met some lovely, fairly normal people and didn’t witness one drug deal….not that we’d know anyway.

The focus was on several sites; a Roman Villa, a Quaint Village, a Steam Railway and a Beach. None of these attactions disappointed. All were very close together and the drive to each was very pleasant. We were greeted at the Roman Villa by an effusive, former local history teacher who was in a tizzy because the regular tour guide didn’t show up (more unemployment). Actually, I think the poor man was in his glory, swishing to and fro from one person to the next, repeating the same stories about the Villa’s history each time.

Brading Roman Villa is situated on sloping high ground, rising from the sea. The villa is long gone, but a farmer discovered the ruins while digging a fence post back in 1879. He uncovered mosaic floors and the remains of the villa, including the hypocaust for underfloor heating. Clever those Romans. The original outline is intact because parts of the walls line each room, all housed under a very modern, wooden structure that resembles a tent inside. The amazing thing about the place is that not a weapon was found. A villa of agriculture and peace….until Rome abandoned Britain around 395CE and the pirates began raiding.

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Brading Roman Villa: Protective new building

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The Hypocaust: Underfloor heating system.

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Mosaic Floors

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Bachus Mosaic floor with Rooster Head Man.

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Villa Front Door Lock and Key. Never can be too careful.

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Healing Well

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Roman Footprints on floor.

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What the Roman Villa probably looked like.

From Villa to village, we arrive in Godshill. You can’t find a more picture-perfect old English village. Thatched roofs (rooves), pubs, lovely gardens, boutiques and a model village that is stunning. My impression of Godshill was that it is one big shop in the shape of a village. Everything from antiques to Chinese tat. Anything not nailed down seemed to be for sale.

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Godshill, Isle of Wight.

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A garden at the back of a shop.

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Gnome Band in garden behind a shop.

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Ferries at the bottom of a garden in Godshill.

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Bestie in front of her favourite kind of place….an art shop/studio in Godshill.

The model village is a mini version of the big village and the same for the old village of Shanklin.The only way to describe such a feature is with photos. So, here goes….

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15th Century church and cottages of Godshill in miniature.

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Shanklin Beach Front in miniature.

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Mini Zeppelin over mini village in Godshill.

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Mini Cricket game at mini Village of Godshill.

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Mini Footbal (soccer) match in mini village at Godshill. A giant trims the bushes.

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Horse jumping with rider at the mini village in Godshill.

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Line of mini Shops in Shanklin’s old village.

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Mini Morris dancers in Mini Village at Godshill

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We move on to larger things, real steam trains. Britain loves its old trains. Societies have sprung up all over Britain to preserve old steam trains, some of their lines and old stations. There is even a society that has restored and runs the InterCity 125 train from the mid 1970s. The Isle of Wight is no exception. The steam railway runs daily between Wooten and Smallbrook Junction via the main Havenstreet station and rail museum. The real commuter trains running out of Ryde are a shambolic mess compared to these old steam trains.

I’ve written before about my love for all things steam train. This day was no different. We travelled in a 3rd Class standard coach that makes a mockery of today’s 1st Class seats. We had the compartment to ourselves, rolling across lovely countryside and through deep wooded areas. The trip was over all too quickly.

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Haverstreet Station. Never any rush here.

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The engine that drove us.

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Bestie ready to get on train.

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Two more old working engines in the yard at Haverstreet Station.

Our last day on the Isle of Wight was spent at the beach. It’s what you do on the hottest day of the year at 34C. We chose the beach at Shanklin because they rent little beach huts. We took a chance we’d get one and thanks to it still being off-season, we got the last one. The tide was in and the beach area narrow when we arrived, but as we stood in the sea, talking to a nice lady who lives there, the tide rolled out. Beach galore.

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Shanklin Beach. Tide is still in.

Perfect end to a great week on the Isle of Wight. I’ll go back some time. Have to visit the castle and Osborne House still. Missed Cowes too. I did see one pirate while we were there. But, true to form, he was taciturn, moody and not to be trifled with.

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