It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! London was decorated very elaborately much more so than we see in Australia but I guess the winter weather suits it better over this side of the globe.
The marina at Ipswich is running a best decorated boat competition for Christmas and we felt it only appropriate for us to enter – both of us being highly competitive and all! We actually had some solar Christmas lights onboard that we had picked in the after Christmas sales earlier in the year, however did you pick up the word ‘solar’ meaning they needed sunlight to work . . . yes well, here in lies the issue, after a couple days outside they were not getting anything near enough sun required to light up at night (English Winter). It should be noted that the prize for the best boat was to win a bottle of whisky, however it wasn’t about the prize for us – it was about winning, it was therefore easily justifiable to spend more money on lights and decoration than it would have cost us to buy a bottle of whisky. I of course went out each night to walk the pontoons to check out the competition and come up with a plan to put on the best display. Captain Phil was just as keen and happy to go over the top even suggesting a third set of lights to run around the deck rails (as well as the two sets we had up the mast in the shape of sails), and of course to top it off a christmas tree on the bow with some red lights to match Red Roo, did we win . . . of course we won!! And very much enjoyed sharing the whisky with the other folks living on their boats on our pontoon – as we were easily the best dressed and decorated pontoon in the marina 🙂 with all our boats shining brightly.
The downside of the christmas lights was when the crew (yes me) went outside late one night to get a picture of the finished spectacular that was red roo with all her lights shining bright only to drop the camera overboard in the water – DOH!!! That’s 7.5 meters of really, really cold water. It took a while to convince the captain that I had actually dropped the camera and that I wasn’t joking. Therefore pictures below of the boat and lights are pretty poor (ipad, never takes good shots at night). We knew the camera would be stuffed but had hopes of recovering the memory card with lots of London pictures on it, and therefore in the water I went a few days later (it took time to get the courage to go in). I couldn’t get to the bottom and stay down long enough (without weights) to find it, disappointing. Trimilla to the rescue . . . (this is to become a theme), David had a waterproof video camera on a long cord with a live feed to a small screen that he used to check out the bottom of his boat on occasion and this worked a treat, we were able to locate the camera and then used a highly technical tool (a big fishing lure with lots of barbs) to hook the camera cord and what do you know – it worked. Furthermore the memory card was fine and we were able to get the pictures. Not so much success with the cordless drill that Phil dropped overboard a few weeks later – but anyway it made the score 1 all.
It was absolutely terrific to be able to spend Christmas (and Jan/Feb) with family and friends in Suffolk. We lived in Ipswich on the boat in the marina, but was a short walk from the train station and only a 15 minute train ride to family in the Woodbridge area, also friends near Bury St Edmonds. After being just the two of us for so long (in outback Australia and on the boat) a real family Christmas, a real English (almost white) family christmas was GREAT. Phil’s Auntie and Cousins and their families were so very welcoming and inclusive and we thoroughly enjoyed Christmas and Birthday’s and days out exploring the area, and New Years celebrations with the Freja’s at their lovely new home in their sweet village.
We can’t thank them enough. It was a perfect base for us, spending time with family/friends, being able to walk to Ipswich city centre for anything we needed, a short bike ride to the ship chandlers shop (which Phil visited frequently) and fantastic neighbours in the marina whom we enjoyed many a great times with. We got a lot of winter jobs done on the boat and a backlog of other paperwork completed, made arrangements for the coming season, sold some Irish and Scottish charts, brought a lot of Baltic Sea charts, scrubbed fenders, cleaned the boat, installed the outdoor cockpit table (which we brought over 6 months earlier – but never really had the run of great weather to install it) and much much more.
We also got out and about, both by ourselves visiting places such as Cambridge and Bury St Edmonds, as well as days out with the Freja’s to places in Essex and Suffolk and explored much of the Suffolk coast with Pat and family. Very lucky and very much enjoyed and the time went very quickly.