12 Sep

Week 17 – A Run Ashore

Swanley Bridge Marina by Brett Hughes

Heading Home

We had two specific reasons for leaving the boat in a marina and returning home now, in particular. The developers who hadn’t turned up for their snagging visit on 2nd August had rescheduled for 5th September and it can now be revealed that we were invited to Jason Moore’s surprise party for his fiftieth birthday in Reigate on the Saturday. Obviously, those were hooks on which to hang other things such as meeting up with the family and we also had a face to face session booked in with the behavioural expert to talk about Bracken.

From where we were, although Nantwich was the nearest station, a little extra cab fare took us to Crewe, where we could get a single train direct to Rugby with an hour and twenty minutes journey time. For once this train was on time leaving and arriving and there was lots of space with most of the coaches half empty.

You have to know your taxi drivers when you are out in the sticks and we know ours well enough to be aware that the eponymous John of John’s Cars in Long Itchington would be on holiday at this time. However, we have had good service from J’s Taxis in Rugby in the past so we had booked them to meet the train. You have to book as we have had issues trying to get a taxi off the rank with the dog in tow. The further North you go the worst this seems to get.

Things seemed to go pretty much according to plan. Bloor Homes were on time, we had a good session with Hannah the dog expert and showed her some videos of Bracken reacting to situations on the boat. It isn’t just our imagination, she really is anxious and unhappy, not just loud. There was talk of medication to tackle it and we were able to make an appointment with the vet for Monday afternoon.

The Deep South

We headed down to Croydon on Friday morning, ready for the big party. Jen has succeeded in renting out her flat, which is a bit inconsiderate. To be fair that just meant we had to go and stay with her and Dave at their house. Not so great for them, or her cats. They were very hospitable and we were made very much at home. Bracken decided to jump on the ‘grass’ on the surface of their garden pond, which gave her quite a surprise and had us all running for the hills as she emerged. Just behind their road is Kings Wood, a lovely ancient woodland, which gave Bracken an ideal playground for the next three days.

On Friday night Dave prepared an amazing paella for the four of us. He can cook too! The following day Sue had a session at the beauty parlour while my brother and I had a planned a joint visit to discuss a few things with my mother. At the age of 95 she is becoming steadily more frail, both physically and mentally, while her finances are also dwindling, so there are some hard decisions to be made. Unfortunately, her obstinacy and awkwardness are growing in inverse proportion to her capacities and resources, so neither of us were looking forward to this even as a combined front. It went pretty much as we had expected. The obvious solutions that would be simplest to implement and easiest to manage were rejected out of hand, leaving us to go and look into more complicated and inconvenient ways to manage her future.

The highly organised party for Jason’s birthday seemed to go very well as all the guests were there on time and before Jason, himself, arrived. How much of a surprise it was I am not quite sure but I don’t think it matters, we all had a great evening a big part of which was seeing old friends and catching up with people you haven’t seen in years.

Sunday lunchtime we had a date with my son, Nick and his family down in Lamberhurst in Kent, not far from their home in Tonbridge. The kids were full of beans and the weather, which had been cool and a bit grey, suddenly turned into a warm, sunny, summer’s afternoon so they had a really nice time in the garden and on the play equipment after lunch.

Returning to Jen’s late Sunday afternoon we had an evening in, as we were staying over until Monday. Sue has had the same hairdresser down here for at least the last thirty years. She has seen her grow from an apprentice, to start her own business, get married, have kids and all the rest. She used to come to our house in Caterham for the last ten years but now Sue goes to her house in Oxted for the treatment. On this occasion, thanks to holiday season, the only appointment she could get was eight thirty on Monday morning so we stayed down specifically for that, heading home afterwards in time for the vets appointment.

Back At Home

During the weekend we had decided that, at this point, we could do with fewer summer clothes and more coats on the boat over the autumn. As the marina was less than two hours drive away from our house it just about made sense for me to run up there and back on Tuesday morning, while Sue was straightening out the house to be left for another couple of months. For once there were no major hold ups so I was back for lunch.

Before going back up on Wednesday we had made one other arrangement so we met Mike & Lesley Fielding, themselves between foreign excursions, at The Folly Inn in Napton On The Hill. A proper pub by the canal not too far from both our homes, you always have a good meal here and it made a great way to round off our trip down.

Back On Board

John was back at work for Wednesday and picked us up at 10:00 for the reverse journey via Rugby and Crewe. Once again the train was on time at both ends with ample room to be comfortable and the taxi we had booked to meet us in Crewe turned up, so this had been a really painless trip both ways.

On Wednesday afternoon, a lovely sunny day, we backed out the boat, turned it around and reversed it back on to the pontoon so that we could finish washing the starboard side. It was quite a still day, for once, so we didn’t have any problems with this, rather to my surprise. All we had to do then was wait for the Sainsbury’s delivery to restock the boat before we left the next day.

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