Didn’t we do well, not a single pair of socks from Father Christmas.

A book called Twenty Singing Seamen promises to be a good read when I’m in the mood for merchant navy stories, which is, of course, most of the time. A book on XHTML and a book on humility (C.J.Mahaney) should keep me going for the rest of the year.
A week later I’m proud to announce that my humility level is now up there with the best of them, I’m not boasting, it was nothing really.

But getting off the subject of me I can report that our two princesses arrived on the ‘eve’ and settled in without trouble. Maisy took over the bed behind my pillow (just great when you’re allergic to fur) and Kass took over the bathroom sink, the saloon floor space, the two easy chairs, the dinette and the bedroom.

Christmas dinner was brilliant. The gas lasted right through cooking the turkey, which is always a concern when you are days away from a bottle changeover.
V slaved at the cooker, while I did some mild slaving at the sink. Kass wiped the dishes which was closely followed by V slapping food back on them. We broke the cycle by sleeping.

To let the neighbours know we were aboard, if they were too deaf to hear us, I managed to rig some flashing LED lights in the cratch. This should have looked Christmassy from the other side of the harbour, sorry, basin. V questioned the strange lights shining into the bedroom at bedtime but I convinced her she would sleep if only she’d shut her eyes.

A couple of days later we got visited by old friends Mike and Pat (ex Hyperion) on their way north after Christmas-ing with family. We always have a laugh with these two, Mike cracks me up with his observations on life. He’s also one of those clearing houses for email jokes that circulate worldwide so if anyone is short on laughing material I’ll see if I can get you onto his ‘list’.
This was one of those few times I remembered to grab the camera before they departed.

Apart from the birth of Jesus we celebrated the birth of Lorraine (niece) and Carol (Joe’s Mum) on Christmas Day, and the 90th year of the reign of V’s Mum (MiL). We joined MiL and her entourage in a pub/hotel/restaurant somewhere mid country for a family get-together.
Fortunately there was room at the inn and the family toasted the remarkable achievement, 90 years, going strong and with a sharp mind. If V takes after her Mum then I should be able to look forward to many more years of being spoilt, cared for when I’m sick and in the last years – pads changed.


The grub was pretty good and while others kept an eye on their diets I feasted on mushrooms, pheasant, Christmas pud and any tasty bits left on V’s plate.


Pud was lovely but why does it have to be served on such a big plate that makes the serving looks miniscule?

Meanwhile, back home, there’s been no let up in the ice, we’ve been frozen in for two weeks and looking at a third if the forecasts are right. It has snowed once or twice in those last two weeks but nothing spectacular and I’m worried we’ll reach spring without a proper snowfall.
There are strange noises in the night. An irritating squeak comes from a rubber tyre fender which can be cured with washing up liquid, but the other is a loud bang that comes without warning in the dead of night. We’re moored blunt end on to the kerb and our bow is attached to a dolphin so when the wind blows we move sideways until we hit the 2 inch thick ice sheet. It’s as if another boat has smashed broadside into us. I wake in the night shouting “take to the lifeboats, women and children follow me”.
I’m all for running up the stairs to the radio room to send an SOS when I remember we’re only floating in 3 feet of water.

Visitors – friends and neighbours Mark and Debbie from Bournemouth dropped in to see us. Bringing Sophie their youngest’s little girl they brought news and entertained us with granddad’s games. Where do they get all that energy from? By that I mean granddads.

I don’t remember previous winters being this damp. If someone tells you that double glazing cures condensation then don’t believe them, the ally’ window frames go ice cold at night and act as dehumidifiers extracting water from the air and depositing it on the floor, the shelves and anything in its path. This may have been exacerbated by over use of the washing machine but unfortunately our Indesit WIDL 126’s drying function has gone up the chute so the bathroom is decked in wet woollies.
Those of us with roof hatches have a great time on cold winter mornings, dodging the drips as the ice melts and slipping on wet newspapers. Roll on springtime when we can open the windows again.

Some say this could be the winter of the Big Freeze. Apart from the condensation it shouldn’t bother us, we’ve a coal boat, shore power, shops within 15 minutes and a bus to the city if we need one.
frank the plank

It might not be so good for the Canaltime hire fleet, half of them are stuck here when they should be going to Gayton for repainting, the other half with their new colours are waiting for the ice to melt so they can return here ready for the new season.

It occurred to me that if they are behind with the work then there might be an opportunity for anyone with time on their hands to move the boats f.o.c in exchange for a free/cheap cruise. The longer the freeze, the more inviting any offers might be.