Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Dem legs is made for walkin and dat wot they will dus - part 8

Hello ma frends. Bout time you wrote da next chapter ain't it Lexie? mum says to me. Ok ok I say. I be a very busy lady you know. Wot wif all da nappin wot I has to do, all da tweetin and such. I mean dis not some excoos but it has been extreeeeemely ot lately and I has to make sure I keeps cool. Is very impawtant for da Lexie. Dis be ma bestest position for keepin cool: chicken drumsticks mum calls it, or frogs legs!

Anyway, where is we at? Oh yes, da year dus now be 2007. I was tellin you before bout mum's manager (she was woman not man) who was really orrible.  Was gettin mum down a lot and dad say is time to quit.

On MV Atlantis (MV dus stands for motor vessel) the usual fing appen. Can you guess? Yes - frost, cold, ice, frozen pipes, mum fallin over bla bla bla! Mum heard bout a new exercise class startin up in da village near where we was moored. She decide to go along wiv her frend and did discover they was bellydancing! She loved it! Da moosic... da dancing... da heaters in the dancehall!

She was hooked da first time she went and has been dancin ever since! Probly we be tellin you more bout dat later from time to time. Here she dus be when she dun her first performance at a school fete! She was really scared can you tells?

Mum was as well worried bout money and quittin her job wivout anuvva one but she say, what the hell, I can't go on like dis. So she quit! Was great feelin. They talks it over and they decide is time to go freelance and work for herself. Wot she does for a livin? I hear you ask (possibly) She work wiv da interwebnet. She build websites, content management systems and writes for da web. Dad say she can find job easy wiv her skills and experience. He dus be right bout it!

She hadn't even left her job when her old boss call her up and offers her some contract work! Best of all, she can do it mostly from ome! Yippeee! She is doin a web fingamabob for a housing association in Hammersmith, London. They ask her to go in twice a week and rest of time she can work from home! So that's her sorted and I get to av mum time 3 days a week and all weekend too! Hooray!

In da meantime, I telled you bout the fing what dad was gonna be working on. Dad had been given da opportunity to do some eggsitin work on a huuuuge boat call Auldyn River. Da man wot buyeded it wanted to turn it into a recordin studio and he wanted to film everyfink for a televishin documentary wot would be on the telly! Audlyn River dus be a hooge boat as you can see from dis pic. She was a coaster and shipped bulk materials all over da world.

Dad and mum had decided to employ Jared full time to be dad's apprentice and learn all da fings he need to know to be a shipwright. Jared would be workin wiv dad on boaf Atlantis and Auldyn River. Dad also had friend wot could work wiv dem on and off to elp wiv fings who ad experience of workin on boats.

Auldyn River was 54m long and it was da intenshuns of da owner to make her into a recording studio and floatin home! First fing they dun was to cut all dem blue fings off da side (on boaf sides dat is). Thems is called combings. After that they did av to prepare da hold for its new floor coz it wud be split into two and have a further storey on top!

They had to buy lots of hoooge stacks of wood for da floorin and to make da supportin frames. Dad use a fing wot is called a magnetic pillar drill to make oles in da steel to bolt the wood to the steel. Here's da wood wot they did av to put in da hold. You can see how deep the hold is. On da wall about 2.8m on da wall you can see da wood and some steel hangers wot they would lay da floor on.

They moved all dat wood by hand, carryin it up da 1/4 mile pontoon on they shoulders one by one! Dad earned his nickname of Popeye coz his muscles got even bigger in da end!

Dey jump over to Atlantis for a while. Dad has to get her ready for sailin to anovva mooring wot we as secured. Is still wiv da same landylord is just more of a working moorin where he can has access to a yard and do fings dat is not allowed in da ovva marina. He has until May dat year to get her ready for da trip. Is only about 1/2 mile around da corner so won't be too difficult!

Best fing about dis is some new equipment wot is goin to make life much easier for dad! First fing is a digger. He use dat to dig out the new berth for Atlantis.  Here he is diggin out da berth ready for Atlantis to come around and live there.

Sounds easy, right? Not really! He had to use the digger to lay concrete beams in da mud first, so he could drive on them so he wouldn't sink in! Of course, dis all was between tides and he had to make sure he move the digger back before it came in or is bye bye digger! heehee. Mum was responsible for watchin da tide and of course, made sure I kept a safe distance in between throwin da ball for me! A very serious and impawtant task!

Next fing is a 30 ton crawler crane wot they has buyed. They can use dat to lift steel onto Atlantis and for dad to remove da wheelhouse and build a new one! Mum likes da sound of dat! Why? Becoz removin da wheelhouse means dey has to finish the bedroom so they can move into it! Oh mum fink, imagine sleepin in a proper bed again! I dussnt know if I telled you but they bin sleepin on da floor for FOUR years! Yes, FOUR years in the cold and  windy (winter) or boiling hot greenhouse (summer) wheelhouse on a mattress about as thick as a cream craker. Course, mum being mum worries. What about? Fallin out of da bed! heehee!

Dad start workin in da fishhold (do you remember that - the stripout?) to turn it into bedrooms and en suite shower. He has to get it ready so he can remove da old wheelhouse. Here he is ..... working ;).

Dad be hoppin between Atlantis and Auldyn River tryin to sort everyfink out redy for our move. Jared is workin ard on Auldyn River and is comin on really well, dad say. He say he can leave him unsupervised to get on wiv fings and each mornin Jared come to see us for cup of tea and dad tell him the days work.

Wot bout me and da mum? Well, we dus av lovely routine. We gets up bout 7am and go for walks all along da beach. If the tide is in I get to swim too!

We dus find a nice woodland to walk in as well dat as got bluebells and little paths. We dus play hide and seek in da woods and mum hides behind trees and fink I not know where she is! Silly woman!

We comes back to Atlantis and mum does some work. Den we dus all av lunch togeva and mum does any tidyin up wot dad dus need. She might take some stuff to the local tip for im or go and get gas for da cutters or weldin supplies.

Later on durin da afternoon we dus go for more walks togeva and plays wiv da ball. We dus av some tea when is later and I usually get anovva walk before bed time. I has learned dat these are times when I dus go for wee and poo! Mainly, coz she say wee and poo all the time! Can a doggie get any appier dan this? I dussnt fink so! Altho I fink I shud of start measurin ma legs I'm sure they has got shorter since then!

Well friends, as usual, dis is turnin into one loooong post. We fink we might have to spread 2007 over a few posts as a lot appens that year. I shall love you and leave you and hope that I'll see you again!

Lexie signin off! Bissous!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A tale of war-time romance to commemoration of V-E Day

Mum was finkin bot her mum and dad today becoz V-E Day today here and theirs is a war-time tale! She was lookin frew some old photos she has of dem and I fort she might like to tells you bout them on ma bloggy. I ope you don't mind! Over to you mum!

* * * *

This is a photo of my mum and dad on their wedding day, 21st June 1947 (also know as the longest day or summer solstice in our hemisphere).

Dad, James Edward - Jim to his friends, was born on the 19th April 1922 in the village of Netterton near Bedlington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. One of 10 brothers he was born into a family that had no money and lived in a small part of an old dairy, squashed in together.

Dad left school when he was 11 to start working down Netterton pit (pictured on the left). Because he was small for his age, he was soon identified as one of the many lads that worked on the coal face, the most dangerous part of the mine. He survived two mine collapses and when I was a child he used to fascinate and amuse me by pushing the coal embedded in his knees with his fingers!!

His father (George) was foreman at the pit and earned extra money at night as  a barefist boxer in the pubs and working men's clubs around Newcastle. He was a violent and hard man. His mother was a kind and loving woman, a school piano teacher, she died in childbirth at the age of 42 when she gave birth to her final child, her only daughter, Ada.

Dad realised his life would become a carbon copy of his own father's and at the age of 17 knew he had to find a way to escape the future that awaited him. He did not want his future to be working the mine all his life until he died either in a mine collapse or emphysema, drinking and fighting at weekends. It seemed to be the life of the men in his village.

So, at 17, in 1939 he signed up for the Army Air Corps. He had never been out of Northumberland before, the further he had travelled was to Newcastle on the bus to sign up for the AAC. He told us the two best things about signing up for the AAC was getting a pair of his own shoes to wear EVERY DAY and a set of dentures (false teeth).

He'd lost all his teeth when he was 9 from a gum disease (pyorrhea) because of poor diet. He didn't get dentures until he was 17! He only had boots to wear down the mines and shared them with four of his brothers, so when they weren't working down the mines, they walked around barefoot.

After several postings to France, he was eventually posted to Hornchurch, Essex in 1942. He was 20.

Mum, Elsie Elizabeth Jean - known to all as Betty - was born on the 16th February 1924 in East London, third child of five, eldest daughter.

Her two sisters, Dorothy and Rachel came soon after and the three grew into beautiful young women and were often referred to as the Andrew Sisters! Her dad decided to move them out of London in 1938 to a more rural location - Hornchurch, Essex. Not so rural now but in those days it was only fields, a few houses and shops.

Mum was 18 in 1942 and she started working at the Admiralty in London. She deciphered morse code and was also a radio operator. Working in London during that time was difficult as there were many air-raids. She sometimes spent the night in shelters in London and also in the East End. Sometimes she made it home to Hornchurch and then it was the cupboard under the stairs, if her dad had locked the Anderson shelter he had built in the back garden (later to become dad's shed)!

In an effort to get to know the locals, the RAF held dances every Friday and Saturday night at the Aerodrome. Mum and her two sisters used to go every Friday and Saturday to dance and let their hair down with the odd jitterbug with a Yank! Mum hadn't been to the dances for a few weeks as she'd been stuck in London. Her sisters were constantly talking about a young handsome man that had recently turned up at the Aerodrome. 'He dances like Fred Astaire' my Aunt Dorothy told mum. 'Handsome like him too' my Aunt Ray pitched in.

Mum was intrigued to see this man. She loved a man who could dance and Fred Astaire - well if this Jim was anything like him then she could see herself out arm in arm with a man like that! Off she went to the dance with Dot and Ray. 'All right pet, would you like to dance?' Well he doesn't sound like Fred Astaire but let's see, mum thought.

Dad sure could dance and he was good looking too! No wonder they called him twinkle-toes! Mum used to say he was so light on his feet and you didn't need to know how to dance, he could just take you around the room like your were floating on air! They soon got the nickname Fred and Ginger at the dances!

They started courting and had been dating for about a year when dad's squad was told he was going to be stationed in The Azores. Before he left, he proposed to mum and promised to marry her on his return. Six months, tops he told her. She agreed to marry him when he came home. That was June 1943.

Due to an oversight by the AAC, they forgot to bring dad and his squad home after the end of the war. They spent almost a year with little food and water. When they were finally brought home, they were so malnourished and sick they were taken straight to a sanitorium in Christchurch, Bournemouth to recover. Dad spent a year there gaining back the weight he had lost; he weighed just four stone when he went into the sanitorium. He had several operations on his stomach, his legs and hands. He was bed-ridden for over six months. A kindly nurse brought in a record player and her collection of music for him to listen to. It was the beginning of his love of some great composers - Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Wagner (I can't listen to Tannhauser without thinking of us sitting in our lounge together listening on a Sunday afternoon).

During this time, mum had heard nothing from dad. She had tried to tell herself that he was just a bad letter writer! In her darkest days she was afraid he had died. She was still going out with her sisters to dances, but that Jim had stolen her heart and although she was asked on dates, she declined and became more of a chaperone to her sisters, hoping she would one day see her Jim come walking along her street.

It was now 1945, the war was over and life started to return to normal. People went about their daily lives. Mum got another job in London and went on a few dates but her heart wasn't in it. On arriving home from work one afternoon, she found a letter. It was from Dad. He explained how sorry he was not to have been in touch. He told her how he had been left behind in the Azores and was now recuperating in Christchurch.

Could mum come and see him? He was a bit of a sight, but maybe one weekend she could get a train down?

There was a nurse at the hospital that would put her up or they could arrange a cheap bed and breakfast for her. Could she! Who needed a train? She could fly there she felt like she had wings! He was ALIVE!!!!!

Mum visited dad often at the sanitorium and as he became stronger, they would go for walks around Christchurch, Boscombe and Bournemouth. They loved the place! That also explains why we went there on holiday EVERY YEAR as kids! Memory Lane for mum and dad. Eventually, dad was strong enough to leave the sanitorium and travelled back to Hornchurch with mum to a room they had rented for him in the house next door to mum. Dad moved in during December 1946.

Mum and dad set the date for their wedding for the following summer at the local church. They had got to know each other well during their walks and talks in Christchurch. Mum realised what a kind and funny man dad was. Dad learned how sensitive mum was and that she had a sadness to her that he would try all his life to help her overcome.

Mum had been through many traumatic times while she worked in London during The Blitz. She didn't speak much about them but they took their toll on her mental heath. She also suffered from what we now know is post natal depression. She was later diagnosed as having manic depression and underwent various forms of barbaric "treatment" to try to "cure" herself as she saw it. Still, through all that, she was a wonderfully kind lady and often fought through the illness to be a supportive and loving mum.

Dad suffered from poor health because of the poverty when he was young, working in the mines when his lungs weren't fully developed and the near-death experience in the Azores. Despite all that, he was the funniest man I ever met and could have everyone laughing at him when we knew we should really be crying.

They managed to have three children my brother (shown above) was born in 1948, my sister in 1954 and me in 1963.

Mum spent years in and out of hospital trying to beat the depression. When I was 12, a blood clot lodged itself behind her retina and she lost the sight in one eye. The day before my 18th birthday party she lost the sight in her other eye. She fell off a stool she was using to clean the windows. As she fell she turned so that she could use her arms to break her fall. She fell into a flower-bed where there were some fuschias tied up to canes. One of the canes went into her other eye. She had to have emergency surgery but they could not save the eye completely. She ended up with 1/4 sight in her eye. These two events made life even harder for her but she coped well with her blindness.

Sadly, mum died in 1988. She took her own life after years of battling with depression and a deep sadness we could never help her get past. Dad was heartbroken. He had spent so many years looking after her and trying to help her overcome her depression. He died two years later in 1990 from stomach cancer, cancer I believe was brought on by her death and his broken heart.

God rest their souls. I know, in my heart, they are over the Rainbow Bridge dancing in the great Ballroom in the Sky together - Fred and Ginger - Jim and Betty RIP!

* * * *

Ok is me again Lexie! Your hostess wiv da moastests. Wow now if that didn't have you grabbin for dem tissues you as a harder eart than me! I fink mum should write a book bout her family! 

Friday, 7 May 2010

We're all goin on a summer olidays init! - part 7

Is bin so long since I dun bloggy bout Atlantis I did forget where I was up to! I had to go back and has a look. Ahh right I am livin in da life of the luxury(ish) after bein rescued from da horrible man wot shud never of had a Lexie!

The year now dus be 2006 and we in middle of anova cold winter, sleepin da wheelhouse! I won’t bore you wif da details, I’s already telled you bout the kind of fing that appens, you know! Fings like:

· Frozen water pipes
· Boiler locking out coz of cold (boiler was housed in engine room what was very cold)
· Wakin up in da middle of night freezing coz is bout -2
· None of us wanting to go to the toilet in da night
· Ice in da shower
· Wearing four layers of clothes (I did have a coat too!)
· Mum wearin hat in bed (dad say he still fink she sexy!)
· Slippery steps of death (as previously mentioned) 

Dat last probly bout da first three munfs of the year! You know the drill, lots of layers, dad escortin mum back and forth to the car for safety (mum and ice = fallin over).

Mum still workin miles away in Witham wot is bout 60 miles from da boat. She workin from home one sometime two days a week. I dus really missed her. No matter what time she got in from work, she always takes me for walkies to da beach. We even wud go out wif torch (and dad if mum in danger of fallin over).

Durin the daytimes me and dad wud snuggle in da boat for warmf or if was not too cold he wud go and do some work on da boat. I would accompany him in ma supervisory capacity unless was too cold for da Lexie! I hads ma own door by then so I cuds come and go as I liked.

As the weather warmed up, dad continued wif da work on the new structure (remember is called saloon!). Most important was all da welding to make the structure good and solid. All da supporting beams across da roof was welded in place. 

A crane barge arrive to move da crane from the main deck to the roof of the superstructure so dad could use it for installing the skirts.

He was also busy with putting the skirts around the roof to give her nice curves. Dad had been workin on his own and was havin to wait for mum to come home to help before he cud do fings. In da end, they decide to employ a young lad wot live in the marina to elp! That was Jared. He is ma lovely friend wot loves to play wif me and always had time for tummy tickles – for me not dad! Heehee. 

Dad and Jared (he is on da roof in dat photo aboves) had the crane moved onto the roof of the structure so they could use it to put the curves in and could tac them into place. Here’s dad and Jared workin on the back curve.

At weekends mum and dad worked on putting a new generator they had acquired into the engine room. Dad liked to save all the dirty jobs for mum! They cut a hole in the side wall of da upper engine room and use a chain-hoist to slowly manoeuvre the generator into lower engine-room. 

Me and mum was spending lots of time walkin around da area and finding fun places to go. Our best walk is to da local power station which walks all along da Medway riverbank. Goes for miles and miles and involves lots of mud, swimming and ball throwin! I can walk for a long way now coz mum has built up ma stamanina! Not sure if you knows this, but I loooooves to swim! heehee ;)).

When mum at work and dad and Jared busy, I fnd maself a nice place to relax an has a little sleeps! 

In August, mum take me to the Lake District to see if I got this walkin fing sorted! She say we goin on walkin holiday Lex! I say, to maself coz I can’t talk hoomins, oooooh I never been on olidays before, this should be fun and I loves to walk now. I not the little doggie wot scared of everyfink and everyone no more! I ready to take on da world, is they ready for Lexie?

Dad decide to stay at home and do more noisy, dirty work while mum is away. He has to cut out more of the engine room, to get other equipment in that he has. He say ‘me and Jared can make a mess, lots of noise and not worry about you and Lex! Go, have a good time!’

So off we goes to the Lake District – me, mum and our friend Pelicia wot is from Malaysia! Oh, let me tell you, I never had seen such wonderful fings like all dem hills and lakes! Was wonderful!  Dis is Pelicia, she lovely! We was at Lake Windermere.

We go to Grassmere (Wordsworth was being all poetic there wif his I wandered lonely as a cloud and all that jazz). We stay in lovely doggie-friendly hotel. I was allowed to stay in da room right there with mum! We climb up hill and down dale!

Here's me and da mum posin! I never knew life cud be like dis! Is I dreamin? I scared dat one day I gonna wake up and find it was all a dream and I still locked on dat boat wif da orrible man and his shoe wot he beat me wif!

When we gets ome dad and Jared has been workin ard on Atlantis! Dad also met a man wot is buyin a oooooge boat called a coaster. He wants to turn it into a recordin studio an he heard that dad is an hexpert in dis area of boat conversion! He wants dad to work for him and he wants to film it all!

Here is the boat and in da next chapter we tells you wot appen wif dat boat! 

We also tells you bout mum’s job and how unhappy she was! Her old boss what she love did leave and she was put under anova orrible manager who was making her life hell! Quit! Quit! Quit! Dad say. So she did! 

Fanx for reading friends! See you on da hustins (wot is they?)!