Janis’s Hyacinth in Bloom
We begin what is always scheduled every year, by date anyway, to be the last week of our Winter stay in Warwick. At the beginning of November, after we arrive here, we inevitably say (every time) “We’re here now till the end of February when we hope to start our next cruise.”
But after four years of making this presumptuous preamble, we have yet to leave on, or even around the first day of March. There is always something that holds us up; like the weather being too bad (you can’t expect great things from us ‘fair weather’ sailors after all!) or Janis isn’t expected back from her travels abroad till March (These New Zealanders can’t cope at all well with our Northern Winters you know!) or the canal authorities have blocked us in at both ends by having lock gates out of commission; they are behind with their work schedule. In which case perhaps I should admit rather retrospectively that we in this country don’t appear to cope very well with our Northern Winters either.
But this year we have been very lucky with the elements so far; here in Warwick we have experienced none of the extreme weather that has plagued other parts of the country so dreadfully and in the four months, I have awoken in the morning to two mild frosts only.
With the air temperature now well up into double figures, there is no reason why this should hold us up at the weekend. Janis is due back from Sri Lanka on Friday and as far as we can tell there is no work going on along the Grand Union Canal to the immediate north of us. So it occurs to me that nothing can possibly hold us up this time and we should leave, with very little anxiety, at the weekend.
I have a visitor due to join me for the passage up through the Hatton Flight of twenty one locks and when I made the original arrangement with the lady, because of what I have mentioned above, I told her to be prepared to leave at very short notice. But it seems my notice was not long enough when I phoned recently to tell her we were off at the weekend.
“Oh dear!” she said sadly. “ I’m scheduled to work then. Is there any chance of putting off the departure till sometime in the following week?”
So here we go again. The coincidence is uncanny isn’t it? Our departure is on 3rd March at the earliest. But actually the delay will give Janis, having only arrived back on Friday, time to get fully acclimatised to our UK Spring (bless her!)
On Thursday last I had a pleasant surprise in a phone call from my younger son Alex to ask if he could visit and stay the night aboard. It was only to be a fleeting visit as he had family commitments to attend to at home in Wiltshire the following day.
Of course I said yes and he arrived by train later in the afternoon. I took him out to a swish meal that evening at an equally swish place (well, some call Wetherspoons that anyway) where we enjoyed their ‘Curry Club’ menu, which as always was delicious. The following day, before he caught the train home in the afternoon, we walked around Warwick in the wonderful low but bright sunshine, and I showed him all the lively places of interest in and around the town (other than Wetherspoons!). It was a sheer pleasure to see him again.
Vivid Sunset in a rain shower behind Warwick Castle
Sunset over St Nicholas Park to tell us it’s all over
The next day, Saturday, dawned fine and sunny again as I set off to catch the train to Oxford and then the bus from the railway station to Abingdon. ‘Futurest’ and ‘Roots and Wings' had visited there last Summer so with time to spare till I was due to attend a recital at St Nicholas’s Church in the Market Place, I wandered down to the River Thames, across the medieval bridge with the ‘Nags Head’ pub on an island in the middle and noted that the waters were high and flowing fast around the bridge buttresses. It was so different from just a few months ago, when all had been quiet and somnolent.
The recital was one given by my elder son Rupert on the piano with two lady friends; one played the flute and the second was a professional opera singer.
St Nicholas Church, Abingdon
The Concert Flyer
Rupert began the proceedings by playing Debussy's First Arabesque without a flaw as far as I could tell, magnificently and then till the tea interval he accompanied Fleur on her well accomplished flute. This lady also played the piano afterwards for her friend Frances who sang with a strong and very lyrical Soprano voice. I was sad when it all had to end.
All my family were there to give their brother support which was lovely. E-J with her husband Steve and son George and I was most surprised to see Alex too with his wife Catherine and nearly two year old daughter Penny. It was the latter’s first ever concert experience and she behaved beautifully as if she was enjoying it all. On the Friday when he had visited me he thought he would not be able to make the journey as his car was in dock and he was doubtful whether he would have it back in time so it was wonderful to see him.
Afterwards the whole family went to the local branch of Ask and enjoyed a pizza each before setting off on our individual and yet lonely ways home after such a beautiful day.