Sitting in my comfy deckchair this year in the safe rays of the Lockdown sun I have started to realise that ‘the boat’ might be sinking. Time to smell the roses and get back to reality ashore.
May has always been my favourite – something about this month’s early morning birdsong makes me feel privileged to be alive. Celebrating our wedding anniversary and my Mother’s birthday were also regular pleasures, until this year; No meal out; no family picnics.
For our 36th wedding anniversary we stopped off for lunch at the Rowbarge Inn in Thatcham on our way down the Kennet and Avon Canal ending up that evening colliding with ‘Young Adam’ who had gone aground at Bull’s Lock. No photo record of that to be found! – though we did have my Mother aboard later for her birthday which we celebrated at Kintbury.
On our 37th we stopped off for Lunch at the Bel and Dragon in Reading at the start of the K&A and celebrated whilst Keith serviced our Isuzu engine and, afterwards, we did the Huntley and Palmers Island circuit – not really to be recommended. Our 38th never happened as Pam was away in Ohio and I, confined to life alone in the T&K Marina, celebrated by driving down to Val Wyatt Marine to buy a new pump switch for the shower.
Our 39th found us back on the Kennet and Avon Canal having lunch at the community run Barge Inn at Honeystreet – and very good it was too – after which we moored at All Cannings overlooking Milk Hill and the White Horse.
For our 40th we ended up in Selby Basin, Yorkshire, where we booked a passage for the next day to get up the River Ouse to York. On our way to see the Abbey in town we spotted Jinnah, due to open for a Indian Buffet Sunday lunch at 12, but on our return at 12.30 it was like the Marie Celeste – doors open but no one in, so we just sat at a table and waited until a surprised manager appeared with profuse apologies and on learning about our special anniversary stood us the first two pints and summoned the piano player – who it turned out was a student and only did requests if they were Adele songs. The lunch was OK and we made it to York the next day and later that month left Xenia at York Marina and spent a week in Orford, Suffolk, in a rented house with all our family visiting to celebrate.
In 2014 we descended down a rather fast flowing River Somme to arrive at Abbeville in time for a celebratory lunch – only to find, it being a Monday, that the town was mostly closed. However, we were given directions to ‘L’Etoile du Jour’ which had a set menu (2 choices on each of the three courses) for €15. I chose the fish main, which unfortunately I failed to notice came on a huge bed of choucroute (which I hate).
Well we didn’t dance on or under the famous bridge at Avignon and I seem to have lost count of on which anniversary this was,
But we did find the Vietnamese restaurant ‘Nem’ open in St Pierre Square, nice location, OK lunch.
On the River Lot we spent a very solitary May being harassed by hostile fishermen at the few rather derelict moorings available and finding no-one much at home in the almost deserted towns along the way. The choice of restaurant for our 43rd anniversary was down to one, ‘L’Ecuelle d’Or’ in Clairac, where we had a nice lamb curry, special of the day. The others recommended in Hugh McKnight’s ‘Cruising French Waterways’ (he lives in Clairac) had long gone.
In 2017 we were travelling along the Midi on the day, on our way into Toulouse, and forgot to celebrate but next day had a day out to Airbus as a treat. We did however fly back to England to celebrate my Mother’s 90th Birthday with a large family picnic in Lacock, Wiltshire before returning a week later to continue cruising.
Back in an English garden for our 2018 anniversary, spending the day on the Caversham Arts Trail, with lunch at Papa Gee, we were saddened by an afternoon phone call to let us know of my best man’s death that day, 45 years on.
We made our move ashore in May 2019 and prepared Xenia for sale. All good things have to come to an end sometime,
but then there are new beginnings.
And there’s always Croquet – we’ve found the Caversham Croquet Club on one of our ‘exercise’ hour outings and we’ve joined. Last year it was Bowls, but there is a problem this year with ‘social distancing’ on the boat needed to get us over to the Island!