Wednesday 30 December 2020

Ice-Breaking, Christmas Cruise & Website woes (again)...

 Website woes are beginning to become an annual 'given' -  Remember this time last year when 'GoDaddy' forced me into upgrading to their "new product" ... only to find after I'd spent weeks de-doing the website that I wasn't allowed to have more than 50 pages?  Having had a strop about that at the time and then transferring to Wix, I naively thought my woes were over.   Clearly that was a dream!

WHY does it have to be so complicated/restrictive?... I mean, all I was trying to do was use one page as a template to use in order to duplicate a cruise from 2021 to 2022... simple enough you'd think eh?

Wrong!  Wix "dynamic pages" (whatever that is supposed to mean) has other ideas.  Instead of just letting my create a new one, it flagged up something about using too many static pages, TOLD me there was a better way to do it - and THEN promptly left me reading through "HELP PAGES" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) to try and find out HOW!  As it stands, as soon as I publish the next cruise, it applies the formatting to the donor page - thus replacing "Fully Booked" with " Details & Booking" (which is what the NEW page created from the template/duplicate NEEDS to say.

Are you keeping up at the back there?

In short (or should that be long?) it's a blooming good job I have a proper system "on paper" ... and by that I mean a 2021 diary that I write bookings in as soon as they've come in so I know what's what.  


I suppose it's not all bad - perhaps a double booking might be a good thing - an introductory service for solo travelers... so long as they are happy to bunk up and share a bed lol.... I'm joking ! *thinks of a way to divide a kingsize bed down the middle*...

ANYWAY - back to the plot (as tenuous as ever I think you'll find)... you may recall a while back, financial necessity (i.e. 'Ellis' needs new batteries before the next season begins) suggested I put on a couple of  'festive specials'....  Of course Boris with his multi-tier status pretty much put paid to that idea (what are we up to now I forget - tier 34?)... what he didn't take into account however was that  US and a returning GUEST had 'saved' our original 'support' bubble so as to be able to guarantee a 70th birthday cruise back in September... and as that 'bubble' remained in place, there was no reason why we couldn't take our Christmas trip (regardless of any last minute amendments ) so long as we remained within the boundaries of our present tier (it may as well be tear tbh).    

SO, Xmas eve arrived along with our guest who brought with her the nicest mince-pies and Christmas cake I've ever had.  I've never really LIKE mince pies - in fact, I think it's probably 10 years since I last tried one to prove to myself that I don't like them... tastes change and now it appears I DO like them... (well these at least) and off we chugged - Gluwhein in hands.

The original plan HAD been to spend Xmas eve in Castlefield basin - pretty much so we could go to the pub and people watch... alas, "tier 3" meant no pubs were open so it would be a pretty much miserable place to be ... with only train noise for company.  THAT plan abandoned, we turned left at 'Waters Meeting' and chugged on to Worsley.  Having tied up outside a (closed) Hotel, we settled down for a Christmas Eve with plenty of wine/cake and 'nice-ness'.  

It made a lovely change to have a REASON to have a Christmas - not since I was a child have I found it pleasurable ... Then it was a lovely magical time when even my father who seemed to work 24/7 was able to pause, spend time with us and even do a jigsaw.  SINCE childhood however, it's just been a few office xmas **ss ups and miserable feelings.

This year however, with a purpose, it felt lovely... good company, nice food and drink and being the envy of folks walking along the towpath - all having a nosey in the boat as we sat snug (and smug) inside with the fire blazing and our glasses regularly full.

When we awoke on Christmas Day morning, the canal had frozen over slightly but it didn't appear thick enough to remove too much blacking... or at least not where we were - the reality being that once around the corner, it became about half an inch thick and by then we were committed (or should that be we SHOULD have been committed?) ... oh well.  Looks like it's gonna have to be done again next year anyway.

I suppose at it's worst, it was about half an inch thick which whilst not too bad, really did slow us down on our journey.  

We still made it to our destination (Pennington Flash) shortly after lunch and on turning round at Plank Lane marina, bumped into a couple of boaters we know from the Leeds & Liverpool canal... Neil the fender making man and his lovely wife who I can't for the life of me remember what she's called...  They were hunkered down making use of some hedgerows shelter in preparation for Storm Bella .

We turned, and went back to the nicest view point of the flash and (having firmly banged in pins) I set to cooking Christmas dinner whilst Chrissie went for a walk and the bosun tried a few Ariel shots with his drone... turns out, minus 1 degrees doesn't half gobble up battery power so that was a short lived experience.

Whilst dinner was cooking (Leg of Lamb, Gammon Joint and more veggies than were really required) we had a few drinks, watched 'Liz' on the telly (or was it a zoom call - I can't recall ;-) ) and eventually had our dinner around teatime.

Once we were satiated (and the washing up done) it was time for silliness... "pass the sprout" should have been more fun than it was... the previous time this was enjoyed being 4 years previous at Sally's xmas afternoon party"... ALAS, either I bought the wrong thing, or it's been dumbed down now to little more than "cracker jokes & paper hats".....hmmf.

Oh well... given how the rest of 2020 has been, it was only to expected .

Boxing day needed to be a good start due to the weather forecast - Chrissie was on Breakfast duty and once we were full, I got all clobbered up with appropriate external clothing ... only to find that it was no where near as "bad" as the forecasters had been saying it would be...

In fact a nice chug back to Manchester - stopping off briefly for a cheese and biscuit lunch and few glasses of wine.  The predicted weather eventually arriving during the night.

To summarize, for someone who really doesn't like Christmas fuss, it was the nicest one I've experienced for many years... certainly since the last time I was away on a cruise over the holiday season - I DO miss cruise ships... then again I suppose, I now LIVE on one full time (albeit a tiny one) lol.

See you next year - enjoy your "night in"... I shall be in bed with ear plugs by 10pm and then ready to begin Dry January  *quivers*... AND  a hard 2 months ahead to try and shift the blubber 2020 has helped me pile on - 2 stone needs to be gone by the start of the boating season... I think it's fair to say I shall be VERY grumpy for a while now as I don't "do" hungry very well.

Happy New Year - 

Until next time...

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Well THAT'S shown me... Recovering rear seating, experimental Sour-dough and Good Customer Service

 Ok - moving on from my recent rant, I ask you forgive me... I'm over that episode now - having experienced some 'good' behavior towards a soul in need since i got carried away.

Let me explain.  Last night, on the way back from a local "Premier" click and collect service place, I came across an unconscious chap - sprawled half over the towpath and into the hedge row.  At first glance (in the dark/rain) I sort of assumed someone had partaken of a bit too much xmas spirit on the way home from doing the shopping (he had a few carrier bags laying around him) and was sleeping it off... then it dawned on me that being in Tier 3, no where is open so he couldn't have done.. As I got a bit closer , I noticed the rear light of a cyclist turning left on the path ahead and also that the chap on the floor didn't look like the usual sort of person who might take drugs and end up in a self inflicted stupor.

I checked for a pulse and once my useless numb fingers had located his carotid artery, was relieved he was at least alive.  I tried to rouse him for a few seconds before digging out my phone to call 999.  Even as I was doing it, under my breath I was berating the afore mentioned cyclist for "walking cycling  on by" - no sooner had I started dialing, did said cyclist reappear and explained he'd already called for help and an ambulance was parked just round the corner at the end of Marland Way....he'd gone to meet them to explain where the patient was.  That was a relief and also a shark reminder that folks ARE generally good sorts when it's required of them.  As the paramedics arrived, I carried on my way - safe in the knowledge this poor soul who/whomever he was would be in good hands now.

It did give me butterflies in my stomach for a while though.  POINT is, despite all the "Covid in the air" both the cyclist and I acted instinctively  in the best interest of others...and that is how we should be.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

OK - Stepping off my soap box again, back in boaty land, I've been pottering - getting on with little jobs here and there when the weather has allowed.  Being in Greater Manchester whilst quite useful, it does mean poor old Ellis is experiencing a LOT of rain.  This has been a real pain as many of the jobs I'd like to be getting on with, require dry weather.

That said (well written), a gap in the clouds DID mean I could (rather roughly I admit) get around to applying some more padding to the new rear seats/backrests i made last winter.  

Whilst the water tank was filling, I took the old guest duvet out of storage and decided rather than spend 12 quid in a launderette washing it, I'd buy a new one for next season... thus freeing up the hollow fibres for 'padding' purposes.  

It was the first time I'd used my new mains-powered Staple gun... it can fire MUCH bigger staples than it's rechargeable predecessor.  Alas, it is also a LOT fussier about when it fires... grrr.  Still, in no time, I'd added a layer of padding and stapled new black leatherette over to cover it.  It's not the PRETTIEST/NEATEST job but it will certainly do for another year.

Continuing with the 'Good News'  another very productive and positive Day was had on 'Ellis' last week.

I bought a pair of decent walking boots around this time last year... which failed by March so I took them back to Go-Outdoors in Pudsey for an exchange ... well, the exchanged pair ALSO failed in the same areas( sole coming apart from the uppers various other failed areas of stitching.  A lovely sunny start for a change so I decided to take the boat in to Castlefield Basin *rather than walk all the way to Go Outdoors and back*... Having looked through my receipts from earlier in the year for the Merrell Boot receipt, It wasn't with the (now sealed up) March receipts folder - I pondered a while and decided to log on, do a click and collect of the boots and suck it up so to speak...

SO, I booked a click and collect for 1 pair of size 9 boots the same "model" as the ones I had (moab), noticing the sole (which is the main bit that failed) had changed a little to the sort of rubber used on Squash trainers....

ANYWAY - having chugged into Castfield and then walked the now much shorter distance to Ancoates, there I Was in the shop with new boots on the counter and about to pay the now lower price of £95 quid... Chatting away with the girl on the till as you do, I mentioned that I had planned on returning the pair on my feet for exchange but couldn't find my receipt so rather than have a fight, decided to get a new pair and suck it up... the premise being, that when you find a paid of walking boots that suit your feet, it's best to stick with them.... (the amount of times I've tried switching and ended up with sore feet being a REAL waste of money)...
She volunteered to look up my purchase history on my discount card and low and behold, within seconds, the March exchange was there and she had to call a supervisor to "inspect" the boots on my feet... at which point, it was agreed they had failed in several places and they would give me the new pair free gratis as an exchange.

That was number 1 good thing... number 2 was that because the boot model had dropped in price since I paid for them, they THEN gave me a gift card to the value of the difference (valid for 12 months) - talk about surprised... I'd given up on the idea of exchanging them cause I don't like a fight and tbh, it's rarely the Staffs fault (although some folks seem to thing it IS)..
So there we have it... a very good service from Go -Outdoors with exceptional staff going above and beyond during difficult times.

Walking back in my new boots, the wind and rain in my face (this is Manchester don't forget) seemed irrelevant.

Irrelevant that was, until Id chugged back to the Marina and then had to reverse on to the pontoon with the wind side on. NO MATTER - I handled the boat as if she had a girlie button and all was well with the world.

Inspired by my (unusual) good fortune, I decided to make some bread - if the truth be known, I'd forgotten to buy a loaf when I Was out so figured I'd try one of the sourdough ready mixes I'd had in the cupboard for a while.  I think they are bit of a cheat in that whilst they do give a lovely taste and claim to contain a 10% rye starter - they ALSO contain yeast to 'cheat'.  No matter, the outcome was a lovely tasting loaf that was eaten in no time.

I'll certainly buy the ready-mix again as it stayed "moist" a lot longer than my usual home-made loaves do.

meanwhile - I am not going to comment much about Boris's "U" turn at the weekend... suffice to say, i have a nasty feeling that by the middle of January next year, with the "army" being deployed to carry out mas covid testing at schools, there will be enough boots on the ground - perhaps with guns handy to FORCE the population to do as they are told... it's a scary thought in 2020/21 how many freedoms our parents took for granted are being eroded as we sleep walk into whatever it is we are sleep walking in to.

Don't get me wrong - I understand, it's serious and it's all about NOT overpowering the NHS but at what other costs??? - I suppose the real damage being done will not be known for many years.

On that note I'll finish now and wish you - Merry Christmas... and if you and any other consenting adults wish to eat your xmas lunch together and your nan is happy for a hug...I'll not be one to jump on the 'berating band wagon'.... use your common sense and so long as any "family/close friend unit" are consenting - who you eat sprouts with and watch crappy telly with is your business...not anyone elses.

Until next time...

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Human Kindness verses Self obsessed modern life...a bit of a rant

What on earth is going on with the world at the moment?


Where has ‘humanity’ gone? … Where has ‘Kindness’ gone? … WHY are SO many people (mainly Daily Mail readers I suspect) behaving in such a self- centred way?

WHEN was the last time  YOU did something kind for the benefit of someone else? – hmmm? – I don’t mean grandiose gestures JUST something kind… that might make a difference to whatever internal HELL someone else is going through?

If you are struggling to remember  - then quite frankly… whilst NOT wishing to be a virtue signaler, it’s time you got off your arse, went for a walk and used your eyes to see the frailty around you.  It’s really easy to make a difference to someone’s day – a simple “Hello – what awful weather*can be substituted with; Isn’t it lovely the sun is out for a change*”… it’s all about connecting with someone who isn’t as lucky as you are to be ‘settled’.  Someone who perhaps HAS worked extremely hard – perhaps continues to do so, in extremely challenging times with nothing but despair at the end of THEIR tunnels, in comparison to your lot.  Just think about it and try and walk a mile in THEIR shoes without looking down your nose thinking “well we/I had it hard too” bollocks… cause that’s what it is is… all bollocks. 

I am probably as FAR as you can get from a socialist but I AM a humanist /empath and other people’s pain can be crushing.    By pain I mean “real pain”- perhaps subjectively … certainly not self pity pain or the kind of  “My life is more important than your life or feelings so I’m going to protect myself in a bubble because I can”… sometimes to the detriment of the people around you (if you are lucky enough to have anybody or that you’ve not pushed away) who cares about you and WANT to see you… give you a hug perhaps – REGARDLESS of whether Boris says you are allowed to or not ffs.

Many folks are SO compliant with  the government GUIDANCE that they are no longer able to make their OWN sensible decisions – in short, they’ve been  brainwashed into avoiding their families for fear they might  contract covid and die.  YEAH – some do/have/will… many wont… quite frankly  I know if my mum was alive still, she’d willingly take the risk for one last hug with either my brother   or I (me or/and my brother however it should be written) whether it killed her or not.   I suppose that is maternal instinct… good parenting and you’ve either got it or you haven’t.

I suspect it’s mass brain-washing… people susceptible to the trite they read in the likes of the Daily Mail *Other completely bigoted newspapers ARE available but rarely considered by those already brain-washed enough to read the DM in the first place*…  people who claim to have enough education and ‘life’ experience to consider themselves ‘well informed’ have become – for want of a more eloquent expression; Self obsessed sheeple!

It’s a shame - it really is… SOME folks beyond the age of 70 *already if you think in biblical terms  *past their ‘3 score years and 10’  demonizing anyone trying to get on with  life.  Oh it’s ok for them… sometimes sitting in their  (certainly  in many cases) financial ‘ivory towers’ to be demanding “stricter measures” to stifle the spread of Sars 2 … these measures being MORE full lock downs.  DON’T they get it? – THEY DON’T WORK….  All they do is SLOW things down enough for the Hospitals to be able to (to some extent) cope with the numbers of people who need medical assistance to either recover from it… or die.

Sadly,  MANY equally life threatening –(for many younger people, still with families to bring up) are getting side-lined because of it…I totally “GET” the government’s stance… it would just be easier if they would/could openly say, we CANNOT protect everyone and ensure no one dies… life isn’t like that… ALL we can do is mitigate the speed at which it spreads… and EVEN WITH A VACINE – which they are already saying might prevent you from contracting it, will NOT STOP you spreading it – ergo, we may as well all right off 2021 and your kids/grandchildren can look forward to massive taxes for the duration of their working lives… anyone under 30 – perhaps 40 (who hasn’t already been fortunate to secure a mortgage) can abandon any idea of being able to OWN their own homes  - instead, a life time of perpetual renting is pretty much written in stone for them.  In short – it sucks MORE for the younger folks than It does for the oldies.

Before I offend ALL my demographic here,  the above RANT has come about because of conversations I have been having with the disillusioned folks I take the time to talk to when I’m out and about  - NOT for altruistic reasons … I’m the first to admit to being lonely… I AM lonely.. I spend WAY too much time on my own and I hate spending time alone… it’s toxic.  I walk for miles each day and for my own SELFISH reasons talk to people… ‘cause I crave interaction with others – in the selfish hope that by listening to their problems/ perception of the world today,  it makes mine seem less important.  Alas, that doesn’t always happen… in fact, more often than not, I head back to the boat full of THEIR worries on top of my own…. Still, tomorrow is ALWAYS another day but if I should die in my sleep, it doesn’t really matter.  UNLIKE the young fellow I spent some time talking with today.  He’s only in his mid 30s – parents dead ( mum 5 years ago – father last year), wife has just confessed to cheating on him with a mutual friend … 2 kids – one the paternity of which is now under question. .. he HAD been furloughed from his employment only to be recently made redundant… we were sat (sitting) on the same concrete bench in the sun – me listening to pop master initially through my headphones – him just staring into space.  As lost as I can feel, sitting there with him pouring his heart out (admittedly he’d got his way through a fair through  few cans of Stella) I felt SO helpless not having any words of comfort … I almost wished I was a man of god – or at least a man with the capacity to say something profound enough to provide some kind of succor … alas, the best I could do was have a swig of his beer as we chatted and head down my own rabbit hole of despair.  I'm lucky... not having kids to consider but  His Christmas is going to be the first without his kids, no parents of his own to prop him up and provide much needed support  .... a pretty wretched time  BUT luckily for him, a kind hearted -(perhaps Christian ) old lady next door to the bedsit he's ended up in has offered to spend the day with him...despite HER vulnerability to covid, SHE has seen the support they can offer each other in both their times of despair and she's prepared to take that risk for the sake of humanity.

Luckily (for me) – when we went on our respective journeys, I was heading back to a marina with at least the opportunity to interact with either another ditch dweller/marina staff ,  acting the fool long enough to make them laugh or at least feel better about their day which might also be just a shitty.


Can you say the same?

If not … perhaps DITCH the newspaper and pick up a copy of the “The Good news Bible” - … I’m not religious in any shape or form but it’s an easy read and makes a lot more sense than the Daily Mail EVER will…


Until next time…


Saturday 5 December 2020

Towpath Life... Tax Returns and Christmas looming.

 Here we are again... can you tell I'm making a determined effort NOT to ignore this place as much as I did during the summer? - ironically perhaps as now, bugger all is REALLY happening...  it's pretty much groundhog day - day in - day out. 

The Towpath however HAS seen a change of use again.  During the recent (now thankfully ended) period of 'lockdown', more and more folks have been using the Towpath.   A few boaters moan about this but quite honestly, it's nice to see people as I wander down to Sale or Deansgate.  There is nothing (well for me at least) quite so miserable as towpath, bereft of human interaction potential.  Yes, I  know I'm a bit odd.  ACTUALLY, I take that back ... I'm no more odd than many of the other 'lost' folks wandering up and down the towpath when I stop to think about it... only difference is, I'm paying double what a 'leisure boater' pays to use the canal and a gazillion times more than 'Joe-public' is.

I don't mind at all.  I'm good at sharing. You see, the towpath is teaming with life (imagine Sir David Attenborough)- (I don't know how to spell his name) describing the comings and goings.

To start with, we've got the boating folk... striding around - more often than not wearing Shorts (like me) with their floaty ball key rings clipped to their shorts... mud up the back of their legs  and smiling/saying hello to everyone coming towards them or sat (sitting) on a bench etc.  THEN you've got the ding-a-lingers on bikes (I'm NOT so keen on them truth be told), who zoom up behind you ... give  a few dings on their bell and  EXPECT you to get out of their way.  At the nicer end of the 'user spectrum' are the old dears having a wander along canal side - hoping (like me quite often) to have the opportunity to interact with another human being... before they go back to their prison like home for the remainder of the darkness... in anticipation of repeating their walk the following day etc.

Unlike the Street or retail park, there is (despite what some of the more recent towpath converts think ) an understanding that it's "OK" to say hello when on the towpath... to everyone - be they on boats, kayaks, walking a dog, pushing a child in  buggy or even staggering around with a can (or 7) of 'special brew'... It's OK cause I'd hazard a guess most of us have made a conscious choice to BE there and avoid the more hostile routes.  Even the ones smoking dope are friendly enough on the whole.  I don't like the smell of it but it's no more offensive I suppose than the soap dodgers you often have to queue behind in Aldi *other German supermarkets with limited product ranges are available*... 

Oddly, today as I was walking Manchester direction, a chap (this time a jogger) passed by me and I got that strange smell for pork and onion pies - the ones that taste lovely from Stanforths in Skipton but when my brain processed it must have been a stale sweat aroma, I admit to feeling quite bilious at that point lol.

Then we've got the ladies who buy all the exercise gear but really are just having a gossip with a mate as they meander along the towpath.  I met a couple of these the other days on a "run out" - heavens I sound like Thora Herd in Last of the Summer wine ...  I must have been looking "good" - (something that doesn't happen often and tbh, I was only have a jaunt out cause cabin fever was setting in.  I can only imagine WHAT they were talking about but as I rounded a corner and dropped into tick-over for some moored boats, one of them shouted "my friend fancies you and your boat, are you single?" - quite taken aback I replied (possibly blushing) "I'm newly divorced but dance backwards"... which they didn't get so I had to (by then I was a few feet further ahead) wave a limp wrist at them to further explain... at which point they were (practically ro0lling on the floor laughing.

All good fun and positive interactions.

Of course it's not all rosy - as we chug up and down the canl, OR (as it mostly the case during the winter months) you ALSO come across 'troubled' folks... those who can't quite fit into society... or perhaps they choose NOT to fit.  They're just as worthy of a conversation or bit of kindness though.  I suppose THEY are the ones we SHOULD be looking out for and trying to help.  I try but don't always manage it and admit to choosing carefully if someone looks dangerous. 

Writing of 'scruffy people' I can't remember if I've already shared this with you but the other week - I was walking back from a gin run (ok perhaps I bought some bread and milk too) with my back pack on  and on my route is a church... where apparently on Thursday mornings they run a food bank... well it was just after lunch and I did notice a van being packed up with stuff but didn't give it much attention until was level with it... AT which point, a lovely old lady wandered out of the church front with a white carrier bag and offered me a bag of  (presumably) food not claimed... As tempting as it was (I doubt there would have been any gin in it though) I politely declined and continued on my way back to the boat... chuckling to myself that I've finally blended into cc society.  The joke is that on paper as a result of this Covid year, I probably DO I meet the criteria.  Oh dear... time to buy some less holey shorts and t-shirts from charity shops again.   

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

NOW that lock down is over, Manchester remains in tier 3... ergo, whilst shops, barbers, gyms and pools are open - you CAN'T go into a pub.  It's all a bit pants really... the reality is that the "covid spreading hubs" (in my opinion) ARE the supermarkets that we ALL have to go into! - you know, the places where you DON'T have to submit to track and trace and where folks who are "mask exempt" regularly loiter around spreading (or potentially spreading) their germs... NO - Government totally ignores THEM as places of mass transmission!  Folks anonymously spreading the virus- day in, day out.

That really does irk.  It must REALY irk for the many pubs/restaurants being screwing into the ground as a result.

At the risk of having ANOTHER moan, I STILL maintain - EVERYONE should be wearing masks - end of... I'm exempt due to my asthma but quite frankly feel it a moral (perhaps civil) duty to wear one when I have to and  quite frankly, anyone who has emotional or mental health issues SO severe that wearing a mask whilst in Tesco's *other militant supermarkets are available* is clearly UNSAFE to be out without a carer anyway!


In MORE positive news, I've done my Tax return for the previous year and that feels good.  I'm quite open about this so the 'profit' element whilst modest WAS an improvement on the startup year so that's good - alas, all the profit (and more) was eaten up with solicitors fees and divorce loan repayments but hey - they'd have been there without the profit so I choose to see this as a positive! 2020 WAS to have been the year when things began to look up but we all know what happened to that.  The reality now is it's been a debt building year.  NOW with the good news about the covid vaccines coming online, hopefully 2021 will help get back to 'zero'... and if not, surely 2022 will!

Out and about, Xmas lights are going up and that's nice to see (I usually think it's WAY too early) but this year, any light is GOOD light!

I'm quite looking forward to Christmas this year - not since I was a kid have I enjoyed it.... Xmas really is for kids...  luckily, my folks have been self sufficient and not guilted either me or my brother (my brother and I?) into enforced family xmas gatherings.  Last year did feel cruel NOT being with dad - his first on his own since mum died (after 52 years together) but he WAS adamant he wanted to be miserable on his own.... likewise in my case I was mourning both Joyce dying AND the end of my civil partnership,  Dad again this year is choosing not to take up any of the offers bestowed up on him which I totally understand.... he KNOWS he's loved and wanted but will do his own thing.  I respect that.

THIS year, with a guest coming, it's a different kettle of fish on board 'Ellis' -  I've already got  some crackers, and I've half a plan to wait until 23rd December and see what lights are left - time will tell on that one!

Righty ho - enough of this now... it's Saturday night, Strictly is looming on the goggle box and I feel a glass of something cold and dry coming on.

Until next time....