Well, here we are at the end of a three week half term (public first week, state schools the second week, different region for the third!), combined with a particularly mild October, with plenty of sunshine! Its been a joy standing on the quay without too many layers on, and definitely not cold enough for socks (a true indication of temperature). Inspired by the warm evenings, we decided to have an end of season party in the garden. I put half a dozen differing sized fire pits together in the middle of the patio, to mimic a bonfire, which proceeded to keep Jim very happy (wood is his thing, collecting it, drying it, chopping it, stacking it, burning it – bit of a pyromaniac) and so along with lots of booze, food, laughing and good cheer we had the added bonus of watching the flames leap about. It was stunning. Our friend Andy made some Norwegian candles (logs prepared to burn slowly upright) that were a resounding success. They did exactly as they should, burning slowly and becoming increasingly beautiful as the night wore on (absolutely nothing to do with the wine) and gave my centrepiece two giant candles. The upshot is, we all had so much fun it is now down as a yearly event!
So, if there is one thing that defines winter has arrived its the clocks changing. In one swift moment we are indoors early evening wondering what to do with ourselves. Cooked tea is a sudden change in our house. I find myself flinging a few pots about and serving up hot dinners left right and centre, with the odd pudding making an appearance too!! We also have the arrival of the grey seal pups at this time of year, so on a working level we are still answering that phone every few minutes. The bonus of course is that for three days every fortnight we have a tide up while it is dark – which means three days that are slightly different to all other days – the boats can’t leave the quay!! I say slightly because we still have to answer the phone – but I do try to relax a little bit and take time to do other things.
On that note, I am very pleased to let you all know one of the changes that occurred yesterday – Jim and I had a day ‘out’!! For anyone that knows Jim you will appreciate that work takes over for him, and making time for other activities doesn’t always sit comfortably – unless its fishing of course!! So, we made a plan, and I needed that plan to be a huge success if retirement was going to look attractive in the future!! Firstly, I set off on my bike, doing a few miles before meeting up with Jim (driving the camper van with his bike on the back) at the Artemis cafe in Cley. I just love that cafe, and often walk the Blakeney bank or bike out with my mates and call in there for a slouch on their sofas, but for Jim it was a first. He loved it! (It is well worth a visit, food is so good, along with great ambience). Having added my bike to the camper we headed round the coast to West Runton beach. This was a planned stop to walk my dogs Skipper and Dotty. The added bonus was the warm weather and fishing boats. From there we set out on bikes, heading for Cromer with a stop at East Runton on the way – more fishing boats. Perfect. It was all going well. Our destination was the RNLI Henry Blogg museum along the promenade at Cromer beach. Genius!! It was a great hour spent and we both learnt lots. I have harboured a wish for some time now to have been a volunteer on a lifeboat, and I know that Jim would have loved the chance, so it was all fascinating history. Our nearest lifeboat station for us nowadays is at Wells, but we see the old lifeboat house on Blakeney Point on a daily basis, so a hundred years ago we would have definitely been on the spot for helping row the lifeboat out to sea to attempt a rescue – well, Jim would have been….apparently I would have been banned (women were seen as bad luck on a boat!). We then had lunch at the cafe just above, overlooking the sea and pier. Our final part of the plan was to bike back to the van, let the dogs out for a run, and head home via a quick stop visiting Rosie, Jim’s eldest sister. Job done, day complete and smiles all round.
Our other major change that is happening over the next few weeks is a new workshop. This is mammoth. I have been suggesting for many many years that Jim treats himself to a more user friendly area to work in. The meadow swiftly turns into a quagmire of mud in winter, and the cold draughts seem to get colder every year. The workshop isn’t big enough to fit The Four Sisters actually inside, so all her maintenance has to be done outside. The ‘beast from the east’ last year just about froze Jim to the spot, so finally he has decided to make some changes. Before he can have his lovely new bigger workshop installed he has had to empty the old one. This has been thorough, and talk of skips and rubbish have finally come into action. He is certain he will regret many items that he has thrown, and adamant that he will suddenly want most of the contents of the skip in the future, but he has done it! Well, to be fair he has had a lot of help from Zac, his new right hand man, who has worked stoically for a month lifting and lugging stuff about. Jim’s workshop area is a magnet for likeminded blokes who often appear to either do a job on a boat, or car, or help put the world to rights over a cup of tea or a beer, (or they are generally keeping out of the way, avoiding doing some job they should be doing!). These men have been turning up regularly to help keep spirits up, offer a helping hand, and talk and plan the new workshop area, and how it will be kitted out. Luckily its all happening at the time of year when I fling my saucepans about, so in true Larkin style, we have had some great nights, after long and tiring days, sitting round the kitchen table feeding everyone who happens to be about. I am one of seven children, and Jim is one of eight, and we both feel far more comfy eating in a crowd, so, although I might not cook anything fancy, I know for sure that I can suddenly feed lots at the drop of a hat!! We have to wait now for the builders and the construction company to do their bit, but the change is on the horizon and the boats will have their new land based home early in the new year!