Sunday, 31 March 2013

A new view

Things are looking a little different around the marina.  Firstly, they've been doing some work to the area behind our pontoon.  Two of the cedar huts have been moved and it looks like they're setting up a quite an area for functions.  There is a large area for a marquee to be erected, new fences and some unsightly pipework covered and cleverly disguised as a wishing well (yes, guys... .it's a wishing well!).  I'll have to take some photos.

With nb Stanley out cruising, the view from the front of the boat has changed too.  It's strange looking out and not seeing Stanley there.

We did a big shopping expedition this morning into Stone.  On our list were the hardware store, chandlery, supermarket, outdoor store and coffee at Costa.  Actually, coffee at Costa was first as we were early and a lot of the stores hadn't opened yet.  We walked up and down and round again before finally having everything... almost... that we needed and could head back.  It was lovely and sunny as we walked so it was a pleasant morning out.

This afternoon Mick got stuck into his mental list of jobs.  He has cleaned out every waste pipe on the boat so the kitchen sink and bathroom basin and shower all drain perfectly.  With all the loo seals having been replaced a few weeks ago we'll be all ready to go.  Mick also installed an extra bolt on the rear hatch, and a couple of spring clips to store our umbrellas.  Next will be a clip to hold the tiller bar.  We've emptied and re-packed most of the cupboards too.

For those back home, his obsession with maintenance and tidyness will be no surprise!

I have been busy washing and ironing my new delivery of background fabric for my quilt.  Corliss at Threadbear back home kindly chose some for me and Mick brought it back with him.  I figure I'll be able to find coloured scraps as I go but I'm fussy about the background so thought I'd make sure I have a decent stock.  It's always so exciting to have a new pile of fabric. I've made good progress on my quilt blocks in the 6 months since we arrived in the UK. 

Mick got to say hello to his current favourite dog.  "Breeze" and her owner were walking along the path as we were zipping up the pram cover so Mick went back out to say hello.  She was extremely excited to see him.

Photos :
1. Six months work on my quilt (what luck that we have a fold-out ironing board!)
2. New fabric!
3. Breeze has spotted Mick
4. The new view
5. We're now looking at nb Potwell Inn

Saturday, 30 March 2013

The end in sight

We've settled back into marina life but the end is in sight.  It's nice that the are lots of visitors to the marina and Easter has brought more. It makes it feel a little less empty now that the other winter moorers have moved on.  The weather is still cold. It's getting down to -4 overnight and just a few degrees over during the day.  We had more snow flurries today but no rain.

It was our wedding anniversary on Tuesday... 19 years... so we had lunch at the bistro.  Since then we have been washing, tidying, sorting, re-arranging and arguing in preparation for heading off.  I've moved his stuff and he's messing with my tidy boat. I think 7 weeks was a little too long.  But, we've recouped the money we've spent on the Eberspacher heater, the cratch and pram covers and the solid fuel stove so we are happy about that.

Mick hadn't seen the pram cover so I'm glad he likes it too.  I know they aren't the prettiest things but its great for keeping the weather out.  I'm glad we got it.  The new cratch cover is much appreciated too. We don't have the seat cushions in the cratch getting wet any more. It took me days of dragging them out onto the roof of the boat during sunny periods to finally have them dried out.  We have talked about roof boxes which Mick intended to build. We've now decided not to bother with them as the re-arranged cratch is providing adequate storage now.

 We will be heading off on Monday. Can't wait!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Italy... Lazise

The town where we stayed was Lazise.  It was surrounded by an old fortified wall.  Our accomodation was on the outskirts just a short walk from the town centre.  We enjoyed walking around the town and discovered a fabulous bakery, a shop selling pasta and cheese, plus an excellent place to sit for a morning coffee overlooking the little harbour.

After such an amazing few days it wasn't pleasant to look at the weather forecast and see how cold it was going to be back at Stone.  I thought we'd be without water.

The day I left was a rainy one.  We had a relaxing morning, a late breakfast and an ice cream overlooking the lake despite the rain.  My flight from Verona was via Munich this time and I had a very short time between flights.  The plane had propellers and on landing in Munich was relegated to the distant reaches of the tarmac where we waited for a bus to collect us.  I had exactly 30 minutes from when we landed to be at the gate for boarding my flight to Heathrow.  When the bus deposited us at the terminal I ran for it.  In Germany you have to go through customs between flights and the queues were extremely long.  I knew I'd miss my plane if I waited so I walked to the front and asked the fellow waiting if he'd let me go ahead of him.  He graciously agreed.  Then I rushed again, reaching the gate 15 minutes before the plane should have been taking off only to find the other passengers still waiting in the lounge.  As it turned out we were nearly an hour late leaving.  Lucky for me.  Apparently there was such a strong headwind at Heathrow that they'd limited the landing rate and long haul flights would have preference.  We eventually took off and in the last half hour there was an announcement saying we'd be slowing our speed as we wouldn't be able to land yet.  There was a row of lights from circling planes at various altitudes around Heathrow.  I was glad when we finally made it to the ground. 

Thank you Claudia and Tamara for such a lovely time.  I enjoy your company so much!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Italy... Verona

Saturday we visited Verona.  Tamara and I had watched the movie "Letters to Juliet" when I was in Germany a few weeks ago so it was lovely to visit the place the story was based on.  The little courtyard where people leave letters was a bit of a disappointment.  There were so many tourists and it was really sad to see that they'd written in permanent markers on the historic stone walls.  Such a shame.  Plus, there was chewing gum stuck on the walls with names written on.  Horrible!  The council have put up large removable panels in the walkway into the courtyard so people can write their messages there but it's really just a huge mass of graffiti. But, we saw the balcony and took a photo with the statue (it's good luck to stroke the right breast - and it's well worn from this).  Info about Verona and the Romeo and Juliet story : Juliet in Verona

We did the little tourist sightseeing train around the city and went into the arena for a look.  The arena was amazing - dating from the first century.  There are 45 levels with each step being 45cm.  It's a bit too high to comfortably walk up and down - especially down!  Every so often there are some of them with with notches cut out to make stairs half the height which is more manageable.  The views from the top were excellent and we could look down on the market in the Piazza Bra below.  The market itself was great too with lots of stalls selling olives, bread and chocolate.

It was a lovely day out.

Italy... Sirmione... Padenghe... Desenzano

Another stunning day.  We headed West around the Southern end of the lake, first to Sirmione.  There was a lot more happening at Sirmione and it was much more touristy.  There is a castle and harbour and we had amazing views after climbing to the top of one of the towers.  It was very interesting walking around on the upper levels and views to die for.  I think it would be nice to spend a couple of days there as there's a lot more to see further along.  Shame I had such a short visit to Italy.

After lunch in Sirmione we drove further around the lake and at Padenghe saw a sign saying "castle".  We could see it on the hill so drove up for a look.  What an amazing place.  There were houses inside!  I don't think I'd like to live there - it would feel like being in prison.  Every now and then was a small hole in the stone wall and if you looked closely through there were amazing views.  There was a lovely outlook from the forecourt and parking area in front of the castle entrance too.  A couple of the inhabitants had vegetable gardens which was the only sign of green within the castle walls.

It was a bit of fun trying to drive out of the town down by the lake.  The roads were extremely narrow and there was some roadwork.  At one spot we were diverted down the narrowest road and Claudia lost her nerve and decided we'd have to turn back.  The car behind patiently backed up and we watched as it and the next couple of cars confidently drove through that tiny passageway.  We had a giggle saying they must be muttering about German lady drivers.

Heading back in the direction of Lazise we saw a roadside fruit stall and decided to stop and buy oranges.  The apples and oranges I'd had in Italy so far had been so delicious.  The couple spoke not a word of English and we were a little alarmed when he picked up an entire box of oranges to carry it for us.  Eventually with some sign language they agreed to sell us 6, and 6 mandarins too.  It seemed they sold their fruit by the box.

Our last stop for the day was Desenzano where we sat outside by a little harbour to have hot chocolate.  Way too rich for me!

Photos :
1. - 11. Sirmione
12. - 22. Padenghe castle
23. - 24. Desenzano