Monday, 8 February 2010

Party day

February 7th

Off promptly this morning to collect Alice and Jessica to bring them back to the boat whilst parents finished preparations for this afternoon's party. after calling at Sainsbury's for some lunch-time ingredients, we continued to Lower Heyford. as we walked from the car park to the boat, Jessica pointed to the water and said, "Duck" - which indeed there was.

The idea was for them to have a quiet time so as not to be too excited before the party. We had to be back at Oxsrad for 1.15 so we planned an early lunch. Just as well as there were cries of "I'm hungry!" well before mid-day! Before getting ready, Jessica went to feed some remaining pieces of bread to the ducks who were duly grateful.

In party clothes, Alice was now ready to entertain her guests - although both fell asleep before reaching Oxford! The preparations were almost complete - Ellie and her friend Megan were putting out the last plates of chocolate biscuits.

 The first part of the party was a bouncy castle, ball pool and trampoline. Soon around 24 of Alice's guests were thoroughly enjoying all of these - the rocking horses were much liked by the younger ones.

After an hour it was next door for the party tea - which disappeared rather rapidly! Only jam sandwiches were left - for some more ducks? At this stage it was time for Alice to blow out the candles on her cakes - specially baked and decorated by Granny Cox who received three very loud cheers once Happy Birthday had been sung.

Pass the Parcel was next - actually there were two parcels with lots of layers to remove. Sophie, Alice's much younger niece, clearly much preferred to keep the brightest wrapping paper rather than anticipate the insides.

Then came the Pinata - new to us - which proved remarkably resistant to the attempts by all the guests to bash it to pieces. Eventually, with the wings removed, it gave up its goodies and everyone scrambled to pick up a lollipop as they cascaded out.

Before long it was time to bid the guests farewell and make sure that each went off with a balloon, a goody bag and a piece of the delicious cake. With the guests gone and packing up complete, all the families retired to Copse Lane for a well-deserved cup of tea and a chance for Alice to open the mountain of presents.

End of Short Trip

February 6th

It was an eerie, misty morning, rather cold but dry as we set off back to Lower Heyford. Nothing unusual to report on the journey, but it felt good just to be able to amble along with only a few walkers to be seen - no boats (although we did see one yesterday).

Back at base we made an attempt to tidy up the sliding cover to the rear entrance but, sadly, it will not be long before we have to replace the ply insert as it has begun to delaminate.

After lunch we went into Oxford as we were due to look after the girls whilst parents went out for a meal. As it happened, their favourite place could offer them either 6pm or 10pm so they opted for the earlier one.
During the afternoon, Ellie gave Granny a tutorial on Facebook and insisted on taking a new photo to upload to her profile.

With parents off for an early dinner, we were left to feed and bath the youngsters - Jessica and Alice were all complete by the time Joanna And Adrian returned - it was, of course, far too early for Ellie to be thinking about such things!

As we reached the turn off from the main road to Lower Heyford, the traffic lights were not working not were they at the bridge. The village was in darkness as well - there seemed to be a power cut which also meant that we could not operate the automatic gates to get into the boatyard. Not knowing how long it would be, we drove around to an alternative entrance to the moorings but discovered that we had neglected to take a torch with us. Cloud meant that there was not even moonlight so we must have been a quaint sight with Christine hanging on to Mike's coat as we gingerly found our way!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Short trip to Somerton

We drove up from Cornwall on a bright and sunny day - only for a short stretch was there any spray from earlier rain. We arrived at the boat just a couple of minutes after 1 o'clock, even with a coffee stop at Michaelswood Service Station.

Despite the phone call earlier in the week to discuss the replacement water tank overflow, they boatyard had not been able to completed the repair but it is not unduly urgent. Pressure of other work meant that they had not fitted the automatic bilge pump or changes to the water pump plumbing. However, nothing was to stand in the way of making at least a short trip out.

As we are probably going southwards next month, we opted to go northwards. It was a wonderful afternoon and so we were very pleased with the trip up to Somerton.

As we were cruising along, close to the railway line, we suddenly spotted a steam loco on the move! Alas it was too fast for us to capture it on camera - or indeed even to make out its number - but it was green!
Just above the Deep Lock is the nearest official winding hole. It was almost sunset by the time we turned around and moored for the night.

Mike spent some of the time modifying the rear doors to make them shut better. The piece of wood he brought was too thin so he tried another piece already on the boat. This is a bit too thick but at least it works!

We are really here to help with Alice's birthday party on Sunday and we will be child sitting tomorrow evening so that parents can have an evening out. This means that we have to make the return to Lower Heyford by lunchtime tomorrow.