November 2008 Family trip Fort Belan Wales

Moet Chandon - temporary mooring in the Canal du Midi - Carcassonne

Before we left for England, we had news that the Port of Carcassonne had to be drained for a few days for emergency work further up the canal. We moved our boat into the canal before we left.

Alan & Beate kindly offered to take our keys and look after Moet and check on her while we were away. They also helped with the safe return of Moet into the Port.

It was a hard long day for everyone helping, very stressful for our port captain Stephanie, especially the organisation of moving 15 boats and finding space in the canal with electric for all boats.

We had some heart breaking family issues to deal with in Nov. I would like to share the good times with you, the month was packed to the second.

Job well done moving boats back into port of Carcassonne Stephanie Port Captain.

Lyon - Rhone & Saone river's running very fast, as we drive along, will we be cruising next year?

Our drive through France knowing our boat was in safe hands was just perfect, as was the weather too. Our car was loaded with wine for the many party invites & Christmas meals we were invited, our diary was soon filled the moment we arrived in England since our phone never stopped.

We enjoyed a night out & wonderful steak, always nice to have time with our friend Willem - his boat Cornelia will have to sit on the bottom when they work on the canal in Chagny. Willem choose not to move his boat this year.

It started snowing when we were here very cold indeed up north, on the whole the weather seemed good. Though Carcassonne had much rain this month while we were away. Such a lot of work on the canals in France & England this year with many new ports opening up also.

View of River Mersey as John inspects the new canal extention into Albert Dock, Liverpool.

One canal we were really impressed with was when visiting Liverpool we had a day exploring the new city. The work re-modeling the city for the City of Culture 2008. It was the first time we had time to explore my home town for many years. Visiting family comes first, we found ourselves with some hours to spare waiting to collect our new passports, so we walked and toured the city for six hours, what a huge difference I saw.

We even had a pint in the Cavern Pub where the Beatles played, what memories for me.

The extension to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal follows the historic Liverpool waterfront, utilising and upgrading the existing dock basins and creating new sections of canal channel as require

£20 million spent on the extension to Leeds Liverpool Canal

The canal link will be completed in December 2008 with the Pier Head section finished earlier as we found, they had just taken down the working fence the day we arrived. After a period of testing and commissioning, the canal link will be open to boats in Spring 2009. British Waterways will update their web site with information about navigation when it becomes available.

My sister Sharon & Tommy hope to bring their new boat Pearl Blue here - I would like to be on board for this journey. Moet Chandon never made the final leg of our journey along the Leeds Liverpool canal into Liverpool with. We cruised as far as the famous Aintree race course, but we had to turn around (2003) - vandals and rubbish prevented us going any further. A very sad day for me & my family.

Meeting my niece Melanie's son Jake for the first time in Dina's Powys, Wales was so nice.

Our first family re-union on driving off the ferry was with sister Kathy & John in South Wales, we had special time with their family and enjoyed a Bon fire night with all the family & grandchildren - brother-in law John nearly set his house on fire, when a firework back fired into the house, thankfully we were all ok and dived for cover. So nice to stay put for two nights, settling in after our long three day car journey from France.

We soon set off again on the road as we had a date in Buxton, Cheshire with 28 family members, to see our son Michael singing in the Opera house, he was singing one of my favourite songs "Music of the Night". It was a charity gala evening of song & dance. we all meet up in the pub before & after the show.

Sadly my sister Sharon was in hospital (3 weeks) and my sister's Jean & Marie took ill & could not join us for this concert. So many people in England with the Flu.

My Family meeting at Buxton Opera House for a Gala of Song for a hospital Cancer Charity.

Mum - Liverpool

Next stop was spending time with my mum in Liverpool, mum was in a lot of pain, so it was nice to come and go and spoil her and have time to shop, cook and just sit with her. Mum was so sad that she was not fit to make our special family gatherings, though she did make it to brother Franks when he & Denise invited us over for Sunday dinner, nice to catch up with all their extended family, we had a nice time. I was thrilled mum made this evening at least. Franks son Francis played his guitar for everyone and we were well entertained.

Mum & I went to visit sister Sharon in hospital to see how she was coping - long stay at the end of the 3 weeks she was more than ready for home. When sisters Jean & Marie were fit they also visited us all hopefully everyone will be well in time for Christmas.

Manchester - daughter Teresa & Jo

We traveled to & from Manchester during the month. Time with eldest daughter Teresa and partner Jo they cooked some lovely meals for us & I for them. We enjoyed our Christmas shopping for presents with long talks well into the night, both of them working long hours especially this time of year.

Teresa had house keys made for us and said come and go as you need this was so nice, Teresa said she felt like a parent ."don't be late home, I will worry". We had some good nights with son Michael & partner John too. John & I turned up at Michael's work place, stood outside his window, have you time for coffee, he had the whole office waving to us.

Leeds & Yorkshire was our next stop over.

John's sister Susan and son's Joe & Tom in Leeds

We stayed with John's sister Susan and son's Joe & Tom. Pleased they are settling into their new home. I enjoyed cooking meal's especially for Susan & the boys, she was busy working and had a trapped nerve in her neck, oh the pain she had. John's mum came over one night and we all enjoyed time together before mum in-law flew off to Spain for a holiday with her brother Jack. We were able to catch up with John's brothers during our stay though just for a coffee. Looking forward to John's family & their plans to come to France next year. I sometimes miss not having our big family home for all the parties we had in Leeds.

John with brothers Steve, Barry, Kevin & mum. (photo taken a little while ago)

We had much work to see to on our rented properties while home which kept us busy, we had much help from our friend Phil bless him.

John & I spent four hard days emptying our storage locker and lining out Susan's loft and re-storing what we wanted to keep, i.e. boxes of photographs. It was a real trip down memory lane for us. Poor John & those steps up & down.

We helped son Michael store all his belonging from our storage locker into a new space for himself, we never seemed to stop working, packing, driving, meeting people, before we were off again.

Next Stop over was in Cheshire with my brother Philip & a skate board lesson from his son Marc

We enjoyed a nights stop over & lovely meal just the four of us at Michele & Philips home on the Wirral, another very late night for us, just chatting over a brandy or two after dinner. Michele & Philip have a magic chest of dressing up clothes in their house, what fun we had trying things on. John managed to sort out his costume for Philip's birthday - I found my Cilla Black costume in our lock up. I can't believe I wore this outfit a few years ago for another birthday, now it's in my dressing up box!

The following morning John & I helped Phil & Michele with some last minute shopping, packing up both our cars for a weekend's stay at Fort Belan, Wales.

We enjoyed breakfast with Marc then watching him skate board before our drive to Caernarfon, Wales.

Family party in Fort Belan, Llanwnda, Caernarfon, Gwynedd North Wales

Make up and dressing up was fun

Philip booked Fort Belan in North Wales for 39 of us. Philip & Michele worked very hard organising and cooking for their guests, lots of help in the kitchen from us all. It was a huge success, a weekend we will long remember, a fun long weekend from start to finish. If I had ten pages spare I could fill them on this weekend alone. Here is a short snap shot of photos's of our weekend.

Fort Belan is a unique and historical natural outpost on a beach, which provided our party with more than comfortable warm (lots of log fires burning), our accommodation in five unique restored cottages inside the fort. Philip booked the five cottages for us all, linking doors with a wonderful music room and grand piano.

One view of Fort Belan from our walk

Michael moved me with his songs and piano playing over the weekend. I was so pleased he managed to make the weekend as he was busy with many bookings and it was nice to catch up with him & John and for them to have a break too. They brought us breakfast goodies when they arrived late on the Fri - we all had our own space too in the fort if need be, which was nice, so easy to find a quiet corner. I think a piano in every lounge and open fire too.

Michael playing the piano at Fort Belan

My brothers & sister on last day

39 of us dressed up on one of the party nights, no two dressed alike. John, Keith, Alan (The 60 club or soon will be) were called upon to judge fancy dress Radio city 1st prize, sister Jean as Vicky Pollard 2nd prize, Laurel & Hardy my cousins came 3rd, they took over 350 photos and said they will send us all a photo cd.

Nephew Simon's 21st Philips 50th cousin Alan 60th & Sam's 16th all blow candles together.

A really good mix of ages 16 to 60 helped the weekend & music flow, the games we played were fun, also just sitting talking drinking coffee around the open fires brought a glow to us all, time with our own families was a plus here. We would come here again that's for sure, though the pleasure & organisation of this party was down to our hosts.

Thanks Philip & Michele wonderful time had by all including the bird, sons & friends too.

John & I wish our families & friends a very healthy Happy Christmas, we are off to Canada next month to spend time with daughter Louise, lucky us!.