Where does time go?

I know, I’ve been really bad at updating this blog recently.  My heart is definitely in it but my brain has just been so busy.  My new job keeps me out of the house most of the day and I’ve had to catch up on household jobs in the evenings.  I’m sure it’ll settle down once I get to grips with the demands of the job and plan my household work better but for now, do forgive the sporadic writing.  There is plenty of news so I’ll write a few blogs to update you but spread them out a little so you don’t get inundated with my witterings.

Firstly we’ve had some tremendous weather – and tremendous weather at weekends so frankly the garden and chickens were abandoned and off we headed to the water.  My daughter and I headed to the beach hut with various friends and my husband took other friends out on the boat.  It was just fantastic to have base down on the sea front, somewhere to store beach basics and somewhere to make a cup of tea or even a light supper.  Even better my husband came by, moored up and rowed to visit us.  We could all swim out to the boat and jump off into the sea.

A couple of weekends ago it was so still that the sea was incredibly clear.  With the boat moored up in around 3m of water we could still see crabs wandering about on the sea bed.  We’d been organised enough to take our snorkels down and my daughter and her friend had a lovely time jumping on and off the inflatable kayak and checking out the sealife.

It’s days like that where you really appreciate living in Bournemouth – such a wonderful place and a fantastic way to live.

Mmm - mackerel!

Mmm – mackerel!

Sunny days

Sunny days

Beautiful clear beach.

Beautiful clear beach.

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Big changes and new beginnings

Spring may have been cold but it was also dramatic and very exciting for our family. After much decision making I decided to take a complete career change – following many years organising events, and a few less teaching swimming I was after a new challenge, one that fitted better into our current family lifestyle.

I managed to land a completely new full time job and started work at the beginning of April.  Suddenly from having flexible working hours, working on my own and being soaked in chlorine I was at my new desk first thing and front of house till the end of the day.  What a change and what fun!  I’m thoroughly enjoying the change, the team is great and it’s a fun challenge.  Next I just need to work out how to fit in the networking / colleague meetings over coffee that I used to enjoy so much.

The other exciting news was a wedding in the family – my eldest stepson tied the knot at the beginning of May.  My daughter was overjoyed to be a bridesmaid and my husband was so proud to see his first child getting married.  We were so lucky with the weather, a Spring of cold and rain broke during the week and the wedding weekend dawned bright and sunny.  The wedding day stayed fine and it all went off wonderfully.  The bride looked beautiful, my stepson gorgeous, my daughter stunning, my husband super-handsome and I even managed to get eye makeup with enough waterproof qualities to mean it didn’t end up on my cheeks! It was a brilliant party, thoroughly enjoyable and totally personal – oh, I do love a wedding.

Wedding

To complete our happy Spring we had one more piece of good news…after 3 or 4 years of waiting we were offered an annual let on a beach hut.  No more limiting ourselves to 3 weeks in the summer and hoping the weather was good.  No more hanging on the phone lines in January to secure the right hut for the right dates.  Instead we can look forward to a long year of playing in the sea, sipping a cool beer as the sun sets over the water, Sunday morning pancakes with added sand and swimming out to my husband on his fishing boat.  Spring may have been cold but all-in-all an excellent season.Hut

The last weekend of boating…

Well, I have to give you some news…my husband has taken his boat out fishing for the last time this year.  It’s due to head to dry land for the winter for a clean and some winter tweaking.
Oh, hang on a minute – it’s still in the water and he took it out again this weekend.  Well how can that be?  I’m sure he told us that he was going fishing for the last time this year, last weekend. And the weekend before, and the weekend before that and so on.  My daughter and I now burst out laughing every time he takes the boat out as it’s always preceded by those words ” you must come with me, it’s the last time I’m taking the boat out this year”.

We honestly don’t want to miss the last bit of boating of the year but we just don’t know when it’ll be.  A few years ago we had a wonderful trip out to sea one November and whilst we didn’t go swimming we did enjoy some warm sunshine.  The weather this year has been so peculiar that we’re getting a load of rain in the week but luckily the weekends  have been bright and clear.  Hence, we hold on a little longer and off trots my husband fishing rod and worms in hand. Unfortunately, the fish have decided they’ve had enough and they have gone south (or deep?) and disappeared so no more fresh fish for us this year.

However we do have an amazingly crazy husband and father who got up at 6am to head out to sea.  The sky was bright and clear but there was the little matter of a frost – the first frost of the year.  This meant I had to scrap ice off my car.  So whilst we went and did our lengths in the swimming pool, my husband had his smile frozen on his face as he snuck in another boat trip.  There are two reasons I love our boat – the fish, and that smile.  I hope we keep on boating long into winter!

Fresh mackerel

 

Have you tried fresh mackerel?  No come on, I don’t mean fish you’ve just brought from the supermarket or fishmonger.  I mean the fish that has been just caught from the sea.  OK, I’m very lucky I know a slightly crazy and friendly fisherman (ie husband!) who likes to head out to sea at the weekends.  He has a particular penchant for catching mackerel which is fantastic as they’re one of my favourite fish.  One weekend a few years ago he came back with 74 fish!  We ended up distributing them to friends up and down our street and filling our freezer.

He’s since tried to focus on catching other fish – sea bream, sea bass and plaice amongst others.  They’re great and quite delicious but I think the difference between supermarket and fresh mackerel is so significant I would be as happy as Larry just to get a net full of those each week.

One of our favourite ways to spend the evening is sitting on our boat in the mooring eating freshly caught and lightly cooked mackerel as the sun goes down.

As the season comes to an end, we’ve had far too few evenings eating fresh fish on our boat but our freezer is full of mackerel and so I raise a glass to the produce of the sea and my husband for bringing it home to us.  Here’s to next season and better weather.

 

The downside of owning a boat…

I have to confess that the chickens have been neglected this week.  We’ve all been out much of the past few days and so they haven’t had the attention they normally get as my husband and I take a break and wander out to ‘check’ on them.  You see, we’ve had some issues with Jillen (our boat) which meant that with my husband at work up North, I was down at the river trying to work out how to solve a challenging issue.

What am I talking about?  Sorry, I forgot to say that the river has been on the verge of flooding all week.  There’s been so much water that there is a torrent of turbulence heading seaward.  Our boat is on one of the bends and so has to deal with debris and churning water. We’re not quite sure what happened but our bow rope snapped which effectively allowed the boat to swing back into the current and face downstream against another boat whilst held on only by her stern rope.  Thankfully we had fenders down the side that met the other boat and so no major damage was done.  However, my husband was away and the river was flowing so quickly that all I could initially do was look at the boats and wonder.  Several calls later we decided that we needed to try and secure the boat better so an emergency call to Tim brought him rushing down from London to help.

So it was that early evening, our brave hero Tim managed to get aboard Jillen and look at the problem from a different angle. Once again we were caught as to what we could do to make it better.  There was no way we could turn her back around, and anyway the bow buoy was buried under water so we couldn’t tie her back off.  The best we could do that night was add another rope to the stern buoy and put out some more fenders.  Job done (if only the reality was that easy!)

The next day we had a call from the river authorities and thankfully they’d sprung into action to help us.  With the aid of 5 men they managed to turn the boat back and tie her back off to the bow buoy and to the bank.  However, all this action, flow and challenge has caused her to slip back downstream and wrap something around her rudder (or propeller).  So she’s now facing the mad current, is relatively stable but we’ve still got a way to go to get her back to normal.  First we need the rain to stop (no hope there) and the river to drop so we can get close to the stern and clear the mass of reed and twiggery (that one’s for you Dad) and see what’s going on.

This week I’m not so keen on boats and think I may stick to gardens and chickens.

Tales from the Riverbank.

What a month we’ve had.  As you probably know England has been battered by wind and rain over the past month – the wettest June on record apparently.  The strange thing is you can have one day of sun and we all emerge joyful and begin to think we might get a summer and then the next day the rain comes down and the temperature plummets.  Socks and jumpers are still definitely needed!  It really is so hard to stay positive when you can’t get outside and just enjoy the simple pleasures of the garden or kayak or play with the chickens.

Sunday was one of the hopeful days – we finally got the kayaks out and had a pootle on the river.  It was wonderful even if we were only out for a short while.  Having our boat and it’s mooring as a base is fantastic as we can hang around there and use the riverbank to get in and out easilly (well, when the tides in it’s easy!). Our boat is on the River Stour which is tidal for another mile or so beyond our mooring.  The river is usually around 3-4 degrees C above the temperature of the sea and it’s great to jump in from the roof of the boat and just mess about in the water.  That’s in ‘normal’ summers!  The closest I’ve got this year is one short trip out in the boat and one short kayak.

This past Sunday I was shocked to see this year’s cygnets.  We usually watch them grow up throughout the season, they come to the boat for snacks and are quite gorgeous.  This year though we’ve missed so much – I saw them for the first time on Sunday and they’re huge!  There’s only 4 this year (last year there were 6) but they’re growing rapidly and have a new feisty (ie hissy) mother.  I really hope I get to the river enough to keep an eye on their growth.

2011 Cygnets – 10th May 2011

First sighting of this year’s cygnets – 2 months late!

Produce from the sea!

Happy, happy us!  After toiling away on his boat (he loves it!) my husband came back with a cooler full of yummy Mackerel.  Sadly they’re the first of the season but excitingly, they’re really here and plentiful.

I am so looking forward to tea tonight – grilled mackerel with new potatoes and fresh broad beans from the garden.  It really doesn’t get much better than that!  Well, maybe if I’d got fresh garden potatoes but I’m probably being greedy!

Have a look at these and wish you lived close enough for us to pop in and give you some! 😉