Friday, 5 January 2018

292 July to December 2017

July 2017
We popped up to Mums for a few day to collect Sandys old Honda Quad bike. I borrowed an appropriate trailer from a neighbour and once at home, loaded it up.

Loaded and ready to go

 We spent some quality time with Mum
August 2017
Once back home we popped over to see Naomi, Steve and Charlotte. I do believe that Karen is going soft and has developed a soft spot for Charlotte.

Luckily, she has taken to us very quickly, unlike most others she meets.
September 2017
Wendy, Bruces wife's, sister, and her husband Ken, came up to Norfolk for a camping holiday and popped over to see us. Ken and I decided to take the canoe out for a giggle. A giggle it was, we are both experienced canoeists, him more than me, but we could not get the damn thing to go straight.

About to launch, Hickling Broad.

Still pictures do not tell the full story, we were going round in circles. It was mad.

Lets knock this on the head and I'll fit a rudder for next time.

October 2017;
John, Karens brother invited us to a reception at the local village hall, where he lives in Maulds Meaburn. The lead singer from and old pop group called Steely Dan was the singer. He was, needless to say, very good.

Andrew 'Spud' Sinclair

...and a rare photo of John dancing
After leaving Johns place we moved over to the Lake District to do some hill walking and to test the cats' suitability for travelling in the campervan.
We set off intending to do a long walk but quickly realised we had bitten off more than we could chew. Never the less we walked most of the day and the scenery was beautiful.

It's the Brucie madness time of year again. Like last year, he was doing very well till a car clipped his front end and ripped out a ball joint from the front suspension.

Brucie keeping out of trouble.

Brucie causing trouble. Dozing a car into the barrier.

The front orange car (mid picture) ripped the suspension arm out of Bruces Yellow Ford.

December 2017
We had prebooked a ferry and a hotel for a trip to Hamelin in Germany. For those that don't know, Hamelin is where the story of the Pied Piper came from and the town is very proud of the story.
We got the overnight ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland and It was then a simple 4 hour drive to Hamelin. We booked into our hotel and then walked into town for the Christmas Markets.

This was the first shop we saw. I thought these were defunkt and all closed down.

Some of the bars were very ornate.
 We were also in the land of the sausage eaters. Lets not disapoint them ! We maxed out on Currywurst, pommes frites and beer as it our want when in Germany.
The Pied Piper.
The story of the Pied Piper goes something like this: The town of Hamelin had a rat infestation. The Pied Piper offered his services, in that he would play his pipe and the rats would follow him out of the town. The town agreed in return for a large fee. The Pied Piper duly played his pipe and the rats followed him out of the town and away. When the Piper came for his payment, the town refused to pay up. The piper then decided to play his pipe again, this time with a different tune and lured all the children away from the town. Only 2 did not go, a crippled boy and a blind girl who could not keep up.
Look closely, it is advent calender. And also a moving model of the Pied Piper Story.

The Piper taking the rats out of the town.

The piper taking the children out of the town.

The two children left behind. The cripple and the blind girl.
We stayed in Hamelin for 3 days and then decided to drive up into the Harz mountains. We had taken snow chains just in case of snow (in some places, they are a legal requirement if snow tyres are not fitted). It was a good job we did.
We came very close to wrecking the car. After getting stuck on a small hill in the centre of town and watching all the cars with snow tyres driving past us like it was the middle of summer we decided to get back to the hotel and fit the snow chains. After getting stuck, we had to take a different route back to the hotel that included a mountain road. It was covered in snow and at about 20mph, we came to a downhill bend in the road and when I braked for the bend, the cars wheels all locked up and we ended up heading towards the barrier with no brakes or steering. I was pumping the brakes in an effort to get some grip and as the barrier loomed closer, I said to Karen "We are having it", meaning the barrier. We got to within a foot of the barrier and found some grip on the uncompacted snow on the verge. The car just drove slowly along the barrier and despite being close, we did not hit it. How, we did not crash, I will never know.  We managed to get to the hotel and it was time to put the chains on. We had a long trip back to Belgium the next day.

This could get difficult.

The chains were from our previous motorhome so I modified them to fit. Lucky I did !

We rode on roads like this with chains on at 25 - 30 mph for just under 100 miles. It was hard work.
 After around 100 miles on snow chains the roads improved and we were able to drive on tyres. The slow progress made our next stop late and we struggled to find somewhere to stay and we ended up in the village of  Nurenberg, where the public race track is and found an empty hotel. We were not surprised, there would be no racing while the snow was around.

The next day we made our way to Antwerp where they had a lovely christmas market in full swing.

Time for more beer and suasages.
 Then next day We intended to drive to Rotterdam and spend the night there but with the weather as bad as it was, we got to Rotterdam and still had plenty of free time so we turned left and headed for the ferry terminal. We were lucky and in time to catch the ferry a day earlier. We had to pay extra but that was offset by the savings of another overnight hotel.
After a few hours we were back home and ready for bed.

19th December 2017;
A very proud day in the Hall household. Rosie, Sprog #4, was sworn in as a Special Constable in the Essex Police Service. She comes from a long family of police officers. Starting with her grandad, Ted, her Dad (me), Karen, her step mum, Rebecca, her real mum and her uncle, Nicholas.

I cried when I first saw her in uniform at Chelmsford Police Headquarters. My little girl is all grown up now and I could not be more proud.

Rosie with 2 of her colleagues. The one on the right is not a skinhead, she shaves her head to stop the mentally handicapped children she works with in her day job from pulling her hair.

A proud dad and sprog #4, Rosie with sprog #3 Naomi. We had to get Naomi back to Bishops storford early so she could spend the night working in the homeless shelter. My Kids have finally made the grade and I am 6" taller today.

Rosie and James, her boyfriend.
The next day we hot footed it up tpo scotland to collect Mum. We stayed for two days to allow us to go to a remembrance service for Sandy at the crematorium that he was cremated in. A somber day. Then it was back down to home for Christmas.

On Christmas day we took Mum to the beach to see the seals and pups along with the obligatory visit to the Nelsons Head pub.

The cordoned off beach with the mothering seals.

On the path back to the pub.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

291 January to June 2017

10th February 2017: At 9:39 pm, sprog #3, Naomi , gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Charlotte Rebecca Gillan-Hall.

February 2017:
Our annual homage to the snow covered mountains of Europe. This time it was a trip to La Plagne in France.

Andy and Deb. The lovely people that drag us along with them.

Ray, Andy, Debbie and Karen.

It was snowing on our stagger back from the pub.

Apres Ski. The other 50% of the fun.

Silly woman trying to do a snow angel in 2 feet of snow.

 March 2017:
My big brother Bruce playing with his dogs at Thetford.

One night Juneau decided to bring this home. It is a pidgeons egg and as all our trees are now cut down, she must have jumped a 6' fence to get it home before pushing it through 3 cat flaps. She proceeded to play ball with it around the living room.
March 2017:
A visit to the Green King brewery, organised by our local pub. Green King make my favourite beer, Abbot, that I first got a collosal hangover from, not long after my 18th birthday in Cambridge.
Modern 'Mashtuns'

An older dtyle 'Mashtun'.

The hops that go into the beer.
The car on the right is 'Old Speckled Hen' that gave its name to another of my favourite beers. It is painted with dots, hence the 'speckled' part of the name.
A line up of some of the more poular beers.
Nuff said.
A quick boat trip on the broads bought one of these bueaties over for some food.

16th March 2017:  Charlotte's Christening.

Poor Charlie desperately trying to figure out what is going on.

The Christening

Rosie and Charlotte.
31st March 2015;
Spotted this in the sky, decided to take a piccy. It's not wonderful but it is Jupiter and its 4 moons. First time I have seen this.
12th May 2015:
Karen surprised my with a visit to see Brian Cox at the Birmingham Arena. It was seriously heady stuff and I loved it. One thing he said was "Who would believe that in Birmingham we could find 7000 nerds all looking up at me" or words to that effect. The auditorium was transfixed by him.

Rose and James popped over for a boat trip on the broads. Another pub crawl.

Rosie in full pose.

Get off my boat you uber cool dude.
May 2017: It's kitchen time:
Karen decided she wanted to buy the biggest, most expensive kitchen on planet earth - or it seems like that, this is the kitchen packed flat and occupying about 70% of the garage.

How much stuff ?

I spent absolutely ages prepping for the fitters to turn up and install the kitchen. Sockets, power supplies, plumbing connections, painiting, plastering etc.

Getting there. Slow but sure.
 After 10 days work, (the fitters that is) the kitchen was in. I then had to remove the island, tile the floor and walls, reinstate the island and all was done.

June 2015:
Isle of Man:
Debbie and Andy invited us over to the Isle of Man for the TT races. We rode there on the bike and it pissed down with rain all the way to Liverpool docks. Our gear is good but after several hours it gets in through the neck.

The racing was the usual completely insane, toe to toe, madness. We managed to get 'near' our TT hero, Guy Martin, who sadly has this year decided to give up TT racing.

Guy Marting telling the world that he was through with TT racing.
Whilst there we visited the Motor Museum at Jurby. there were vehicles of all descriptions there and this one caught my eye. It is effectionately called a 'Green Goddess'. A military fire engine. In 1977 the Fire Brigade in the UK decided to go on strike and being the good little sqaddies that we are, we manned them during the strike. I remember being posted to Oakham School, a girls shool for older youg ladies. It was pure hell.

The owner of the museum was a wheelchar bound gent that for some reason started chatting to us and when I mentioned that we used them previously he promptly got out of his wheel chair and gave us a private showing. He even took this photo for  us.

Photo taken by museum owner, Dennis Cunningham.
 Also in the museum were meny hundreds of bikes including these. The Yamaha below was my first real bike and cost me £499 in 1973. I totally loved it and it would top out at aroud 105 mph. A fast bike those days. Mine was red, my favourite colour.

A Yamaha RD350A
 However, the moped below was the first powered two wheeler I ever sat on. The whole family was on holiday in Cornwall in 1969, at the time of the first lunar landing. I was 13. Most days we rode past this little dirt track that had about 6 of these, stripped down, for play racing. My mum decided it would be a good idea for us all to pile on and take the place over for a couple of hours. It is one of my fondest memories of her. She was completely nuts, but in a good way.

A Raleigh Wisp.

After the IOM, it was time to do some work in the garden. We cleared all the large trees away to enlarge the garden. It gave us a lot more space at the bottom of the garden and allowed us to see out of the conservatory. We also stuck down some decking  near the summerhouse.

A lot more space at the bottom of the garden.
All the bushes around the conservatory are now gone.
 Putting the decking down allowed us to do this.

Champagne and sunshine. Almost the Bahamas.
Just a thought.

 That night one of the cats bought this in. It was only on closer inspection that we realised that it was a mouse caught up in a leaf.

Errrrr  ..   a leaf mouse.
 Andy and Deb popped over from the Isle of Man. We took them out for a booze cruise. This is Andy in his typical horizontal style.