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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Holiday log part 2

In memory of Keith, b February 1952 d May 2013 aged 61.

Friday, 14 April 2017

A witty poem about hire boat Fife holiday log

A mountain of post was waiting for us at our daughter's house. After 6 months it was to be expected and most was unwanted junk mail but nestled in amongst the junk was a small magazine. Christine had found this magazine in her loft and I was both surprised and delighted when I saw what it was. Many, many years ago we went on a boat holiday hiring from Black Prince Narrow Boats. Our best friends Pat and Keith joined us for the two week holiday in 1997. During our trip, Keith (the poet amongst us) and with a bit of help from us all, kept a daily and amusing log. Today in memory of Keith who sadly died of a brain tumour in May 2013, I have decided to share it. Two weeks worth is a lot to publish in one go so I will do the second part in tomorrow's post.

 In memory of Keith, b February 1952 d May 2013 aged 61

Monday, 10 April 2017

Last day in Hong Kong and now back in good old blighty.

As we thought, that last day in Hong Kong seemed to go on for ever. The humidity shot up again and at 26 degrees it was most uncomfortable. We visited a cemetery in the morning. Some would call that morbid but I find them peaceful and relaxing and this one held a fascination as it contained79 scattered Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 62 from the Second World War.We happened to see the grave stones when we took the tour bus on our way to the Happy Valley racecourse so of course I had to find out a bit about about it. So this became the first visit of the day.

As we had arranged a late checkout our bags were left in the room and the plan was to return by 1pm, shower, get changed into travelling clothes and then go find the space museum. All went to plan until we arrived at the space museum. Finding that renovation work was going on inside, the only thing available to see was a film at the theatre. In 3D this would have been amazing but all narrative was in Mandarin and the first English viewing wasn't until 6.45pm that evening. No good to us as we had to make our way to the airport. So instead we had another route march to go find the science museum and after 2km found the place. Quite enjoyed looking around as the information boards were in English as well as as Mandarin. The place was set out more for the children and, of course, with it being a Saturday absolutely packed.

A Star Wars theme
 After a couple of hours the decision to go collect our luggage at the hotel and make our way to the airport where we could cool down away from the humidity was a good one. On the walk back we spied this church looking a bit like something from Disney World and right next to it, a dog latrine!

Took roughly an hour from the hotel to the airport by bus and getting checked in was a doddle. Ian had already done this on line so after getting rid of the bags at the drop off point, went straight through security and found a comfy seat where we could wait the 7 hours before the flight.

The plane left on time, just after midnight, but the first part of the flight was awful. So much turbulence that the steward and stewardesses were told to get back to their seats and buckle up. When the emergency exit lights started flashing I thought the end had come!! Thankfully after 30 minutes of being buffeted in all directions the flight levelled out and all became calm. So glad I haven't got to take anymore flights in the foreseeable future, my feet can stay firmly routed to the ground.

So now we are back on home soil. Our son Colin and Grandson Oscar met us at the airport, a very early start for them as they had to leave Milton Keynes at 4.30am and then had a long wait for us to eventually come through immigration. Still the reunion was wonderful. So many hugs from Oscar that I think he was pleased to see us. Our other grandson Oliver had to stay at home. Only last week he fell off his bike and broke his collar bone but he also got massive but gentle hugs when we arrived back at the house.

Took the national express back on Monday morning and after 3 hours we finally set foot on board FS. All seemed okay inside and out (no condensation present, mould or musty smells) and the solar panels had kept our batteries topped up nicely. After plugging into the electrics the water tank was filled, then emptied to flush out any impurities and refilled again. The central heating went on and the bed was remade. A quick shop at Asda for 'essentials' before finally relaxing and enjoying the fact we were back on our floating home. We wont be setting off now until sometime in May. To many family and friends to catch up with and to bore by showing thousands of photos!

And at the cemetery,

A huge bug on it's back at he cemetery

And having righted itself.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

It didn't rain today but it might just as well have because the humidity rose to 91%.  We both felt very moist for most of the day or, as the saying goes, Ian perspired but l glowed!  We went to the Wetland centre north of Kowloon. Took three changes of train to get there with an exorbitant fare of $93. Sounds a huge amount until you break it down to English pounds. Then £9.30 for both of us doesn't seem half as bad. In fact the third train was the circular light railway with a total cost of 40p!

Everywhere is so clean.

Light railway.
The 61-hectare grounds of the park has, not just lakes and rivers, but a mangrove swamp complete with crabs and mud skippers. A boardwalk allows you to get close and personal and we spent ages watching the antics of them all.There is also a very large glass enclosed enclosure complete with an Aligator. So much to see we were amazed to have spent 5 hours wandering the grounds.

Wetland Park

Possible large wasps?

I think this is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Chinese Pond Heron

Nest building fish.

The final day tomorrow. We leave for home on the early hours of Sunday morning. Hotel check-out  is 2 pm. Our luggage can be left with the hotel giving us freedom to go and do the final bit of sightseeing. Then at 8 pm we have to be ready for the bus to take us to the airport. It's going to be a long long day and an even longer 13-hour flight. Can't wait to get back to the UK and see the children and grandkids. 6 months is a long time to be away from the family and both of us, although loved our adventures in Australia and New Zealand, are ready to slow down again.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Stranded on the wrong side of the harbour.

On the tour yesterday we were given two tickets for a one way trip on the rickshaw bus. Anther of those hop on hop off buses and because of this we planned our day  From a stop by the YMCA near the harbour in Kowloon we could get to Hong Kong island and alight by the Man Mo Temple and then get back on for the botanical and zoological gardens. Like all good plans, things don't always work out. What we hadn't realised or told by yesterday's guide was the bus terminated at the harbour on the Hong Kong island side and everyone had to get off. Our tickets had already been taken by the bus driver and would not allow us back on to continue our journey!

Whilst waiting for the bus, Top photo was the old police and fire station. Bottom photo, more of the bamboo scaffolding.

All alone on the top deck and the traffic congestion waiting to go through the tunnel linking both islands. Toll booths and 6 lanes going back into two and you can imagine the holdup!
 Nothing for it then but to walk through a maze of streets, some with very steep inclines. Didn't help matters when Ian's phone battery died on us. What a relief to have grabbed the map of Hong Kong before we left the hotel 'just in case'. Anyway, after a long walk we eventually found the temple. Most impressive but that incense.....air was thick with it.

Out came the map and we found another route towards the gardens. Our poor feet were by now beginning to shout 'stop stop we need rest'. So we listened to them and found a place have lunch. 2 large chilli chicken kebabs and two teas came to under £12. Eventually, we found the gardens. Free entry to both the zoo and gardens, now that was more like it.

A tiny Pygmy Marmoset.

By the time we had walked around this huge garden (both sides of a busy main road) we were ready to get back to the hotel for a rest. Ian also had the biggest blister on his foot so was suffering somewhat. We could have walked back to the ferry paid the $30HK (£3) which was about a mile away or we could take the train roughly .5 of a mile away and pay the same price. We chose the train. So impressed with the ease in which we got the tickets and the cleanliness of the station. Large sliding doors along the length of the platform screened the platform from the train.  No more suicides in these stations!

Within 10 minutes we were back at the hotel thankful to get off our feet. But by 7.30 pm we were getting decidedly hungry so it was off to the Stanley Market to find a place to eat. The market was thriving. Only on at night, the atmosphere was brilliant. No one hassled us even while looking at the goods on offer. If we said 'no thank you' they left us alone.

Meal was again cheap but the rain was the only thing that marred the evening. Totally unprepared we got rather wet returning to the hotel. Hope tomorrow is better. Off to the wetlands for a spot of wildlife spotting!

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