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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Retirement and Big Birthday

WOW!!! What a few days.

March 13th was the day of our retirement party, courtesy of Nicholas King Homes.

I have been working for NKH for the last 5 years and Jacquie joined the team in May of 2007. There was a staff training day scheduled for the 13th and all our sales colleagues would be attending. Jacquie decided to go as well, to defer her retirement as long as possible, I unfortunately couldn't as I was in the local hospital having a pre operation assessment. I did arrive at the head office of NKH in time for a presentation of cards, gift and lovely words from Susan our Sales Director assuring us that we would always be welcome back.

Then to the Crown for champagne and dinner, to be assured by all our work chums that we would be missed and envied. We have so enjoyed our time at NKH and the warmth and friendship of the team that we will undoubtedly miss them all.

That was just the start. The next day was Jacquie's big 60. First stop was the post office for her Freedom Pass, which allowed Jac a free but crowded train journey to London Victoria, where we swapped trains for the luxury of The Orient Express and a champagne, five course lunch tour of Kent, in the beautiful Pullman carriage called Phoenix. The one sadness was that this was not a steam hauled train, but as we didn't disembark until back at Victoria Station, four very enjoyable hours later, the lack of steam was not noticed.

That wasn't the end of the days activities. Two tickets were waiting for us for the stage version of Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. What a show, pathos, anger, comedy, music, all of that and then the dancing and amazing set changes. Brilliant, the first show that I can remember going to when there was a standing ovation. If you do get a chance to see, don't leave too soon at what appears to be the end as several people did trying to beat the leaving crush.

Well that's probably the last time for a while that I'll be wearing a suit and tie, My remaining suit will be stored at a friends for the occassional, hatchem, matchem and dispatchem situations. All other business suits, shirts and ties have gone to the charity shops, so much easier for us guys to get rid of the past.

Look out for the next blog, which will probably be after we have moved permanently onto Skyy.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Pre Launch Activities

Yes! I know its says the 'Adventures of NB Skyy', but left to it's self Skyy doesn't do much, however Mac & Jacquie have been busy during the end of February and the beginning of March.
I visited the boat on the 26th of February with a load of clothes and kitchen stuff. The home wardrobes still seem almost as full as ever, but the boat does seem to be absorbing all the stuff.

I got Lime Kiln Chandlers to mail me a length of chrome curtain pole and fittings, (not easy to get) which I fitted to the underside of the cratch board. so that small amounts of laundry can be hung to dry. I also painted the heavy metal base for the clothes whirlygig airer and the end of the new lightweight gangplank/ladder, how sad is that? but it had to be midnight blue not green.

I also fitted the smart chrome steps to the side of the boat, these enable you to climb easily onto the roof when necessary. I had realised that when screwing or bolting anything to the steel superstructure, you have to first drill a hole and then tap a thread into the steel. Memories of metalwork at school slowly eased back into the brain and I was able to neatly complete the job. The only misfortune was dropping my centre punch overboard, but my trusty sea magnet recovered it.

The real excitement is that we have been skiing. I haven't been on skis for 8 years and Jacquie for 6. We stayed with chums, Phil & Lynn at their mountain retreat, in the South of France, which is just an hours drive from Valberg, a most attractive ski resort. The weather was warm & sunny, which meant the snow was a little slushy, but that suited my limited ability fine. The next day was also sunny but much colder and the snow had an icy top, which was challenging for all and although Phil, Lynn and Jacquie skiied until late afternoon, I was happy to sit it out with coffee and beer.

After a day resting the legs, Phil and I set of to visit the medieval fortified town of Entrevaux, which is in the Alpes-De-Haute-Provence area. After wandering around the walled town, we were about to pay the 3 Euro fee to visit the Citadel, when we were advised that there was a back way up to this stronghold and we could get in for free, It seemed a little unwise to have a back way into a castle, but being cheapscates, we thought we try it. A tad scary, certainly not for the faint hearted, but our scramble was rewarded with a fabulous view and an entrance via a draw bridge, which was in fact the escape route from the citadel if in fact it had ever been overrun.

The underground passages and laddered shafts providing access to the defensive slits was a real boys own adventure, you wouldn't be allowed anywhere near something like this in England.
Health and Safety would see to that, Vivre the difference. The cells for German officers from the 1st World War were still there to see, that must have been a cold bleak place to have spent the rest of the war. A huge amount of restoration had been carried out to make this lofty citadel accessible, but not so much to take away the feeling of having just discovered this ruin.

In between skiing and pretending to be Indiana Jones, we had to feed Nou Nou the donkey and had a close encounter with a pot bellied pig, both pets of local residents. All part of living in a small rural environment, lovely.

Now that we have returned to Blighty we have to do the final packing and storage, with just 3 weeks before setting off.