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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Autumn, Cancer, Rabble Chorus and Christmas

Home making.

Settling in takes forever. I've been here over a year and am nowhere near organised. Getting rid of stuff is hard work. I always thought house clearers were on to a good thing and very cheeky asking to be paid to take away all the stuff, but I never knew a rich one. Now I reckon it's good value to get someone else to do it all. Try getting rid of big brown furniture, paintings, etc. etc..


The doc has told me I've got prostate cancer. Bit of a blow. Apparently one in eight chaps get it. With modern technology I have a fair chance of survival, c. 85%, so KBO! (Churchill's wartime phrase - Keep Buggering On.)

Ipswich General Hospital has been very impressive. I was whisked in for a biopsy, which involved a very pleasant chap sticking a thing that looked like a neat Uzi machine pistol up my bum. It took pictures and bites out of my prostate. Not too painful but infinitely undignified!

Nasty looking beast!

Next was a nuclear scan whereby I was injected with a radioactive isotope of Technetium and after a suitable pause scanned by a giant machine that checked out my pelvis to see if the cancer had spread to the bone. Thank goodness it hasn't so my chances of keeping going are better. Then I had an MRI scan. Another fantastic giant machine that clunks away very loudly. The sound conveys the idea of some very early piece of heavy engineering - Stephenson's Rocket or the like. Quite incongruous with the brand new super-high technology kit that it is. The MRI inter alia locates my prostate and then they can target the radiotherapy which begins in February. That's when the unpleasantness begins.  Meanwhile I've had a hormone injection. I have to have one every three months for the next three years.

Rabble Chorus

I've joined a local singing group, The Rabble Chorus (  )We sing all sorts. A very friendly gang. Our concerts have included Framlingham Church and the Seckford Almshouses.


Four days to go and still not ready. Two parties tonight. The later one is Alex and Jane who are celebrating the New Year at the proper date, the winter solstice!

Pictures and more anon probably after Christmas.



Thursday, 29 September 2016


I took a day off cruising. Went to take the photos of that strange superyacht and then down to Greenwich which is now mainly the University along with a Greenwich visitors' centre.

And, of course, the Cutty Sark.

 I used the catamaran riverbuses. Very impressive service. Lovely smooth ride. Pity about the wake they inevitably leave behind, not so much big but powerful and very persistant. They leave all that part of the Thames in a permanent state of agitation.

Next day, sun shining and bright blue skies, off to Gillingham Marina

passing Greenwich

the O2

the Thames Barrier

Tate & Lyle

the Woolwich Ferry

the QE2 bridge, accompanied by serious industrial traffic.

 As I was about to turn around the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery into the Medway I saw a sail on the horizon. Ever a sucker for a classic sailing boat I held an intercepting course... 

...which proved to be...

...well worth the effort. 

As I entered a pretty little gaffer was leaving.

And so in to a very welcoming Gillingham Marina complete with gym and pool at preferential rates (in the building behind).

Next day the tide was ideal for an early start... to a spectacularly beautiful morning. The sea was flat calm. The pics say it all.

A flock of gulls found some freely available prey.

And so out in to the open sea ...

... and buoy hopping for 50nm up to ...

...the lovely River Deben. Here showing Ramsholt.

It was getting dark so I moored up to a free buoy for the night before arriving on the tide Tuesday morning at The Granary Yacht Harbour.


Monday, 26 September 2016


I had vaguely thought I might get as far as the Folly Bridge, Oxford where the bridge is too low for Lady Cate to pass. However I was told the water gets too shallow by Abingdon. Then the bad news - no lock keepers. It's a great chore getting through locks on your own, even if they are powered. Then the good news - a fine weather window combined with good tide timing was coming up. So, as they say, no brainer. The main objects of my journey being completed I decided to return.

 So back under the M25.

Passing this lovely little classic near Chertsey Lock - which was not manned but I had caught up with a small convoy who were happy enough doing the work. 

From Chertsey to Shepperton:


there are some splendidly eccentric house boats on the Thames.

This is Sunbury Weir where we would play as children, with St Mary's Church in the background.

Between Sunbury amd Molesey Locks is the School's Boathouse together with that of Lady Eleanor School.  

Plenty of activity -

Don't know when the girls started rowing. Sadly, in my day, the girls' school was wholly out of bounds. We even had boys playing the women in plays rather than work on joint productions. Thank goodness that'a all changed. 

Hampton's yellow blades.

Hampton Church where the school started in 1556.

Garrick's Villa. The actor David Garrick was a patron.

Nearby a fantastic old houseboat in fine condition.

Another houseboat with a flower laden floating patio.

Molesey Boat Club which the school shared when I rowed.

And so to Teddington to stay overnight.

And then on ...

Passing The Star and Garter which used to be a home for retired world war vets run by the Poppy Fund people but is now a hotel and apartments ...

and the new residential developments between the river and the town. Prince Charles got quite worked up about the original designs and these are the result of his concerns. Nicely classical.

Through the Victorian Richmond Lock as the sluices were in action. Had to wait an hour here. Half an hour for the water to be enough for us to get out and then half an hour for a late tour boat.

That half hour mattered as you will see.

The river was very busy and full of the usual tourist attractions and then this! An extraordinary contraption straight out of a Bond movie moored alongside HMS Belfast.

I couldn't photo it from the boat as I was too busy so I caught the riverbus to the Tower the next day and took these.

Apparently it belongs to Andrey Melnichenko.

The problem with leaving Richmond Lock half an hour late meant I was 10 minutes late at South Dock. The staff had gone, not willing to wait to open the lock for me. So be it.

So I had to moor on Greenland Pier where the huge riverbus catamarans come in for passengers.

They make a huge swell, especially by the piers as they accelerate away.

 So the mooring was like being on a permanently bouncing trampoline. I put a bow line out to port to hold Lady Cate off the pier and we spent the night sort of suspended off the pier in the bouncy water. I slept in the wheelhouse clothed and lifejacketed!

The photos don't show the waves very well although they are sometimes 3ft high. I've got a .mov file showing Lady Cate bouncing around but it was too much for this bloggging software to take!

I got in to the marina first thing the next morning.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


Penton Hook claims to be the largest inland marina in Britain. It is enormous. A great sea of plastic. Friendly staff.

This is as far as I go. Not the plan but the upstream locks will be unmanned. Having to work the locks on my own it would become tedious.

Anyway, I'm keen to get on with Tread Lightly. The fire is warming. It would be far easier to get back to the lovely Granary Marina where my new friends are all around and all you want is readily to hand.

I had to cycle in to Chertsey yesterday, some three miles, to get my shopping.

Bye for now.