They say events come in three's and today was no exception. Not only were we celebrating the Queen's birthday but secretly decided to celebrate Maice's 50th and Timmy's 70th. Okay so it wasn't really their birthdays, well not until later in the year, but if the Queen can celebrate twice, then what's good enough for our Sovereign is good enough for our two.
It was all planned. We would make sure Maice and Timmy went off to carry out their morning ablutions at the same time, decorate the boats and on their return 'Surprise, Surprise' .........only it didn't quite go to plan as Timmy decided to use the 'on board' facilities and Maice hot footed it off to the toilet block before anyone realised she'd disappeared.
Nature had called early that morning, 5.45am to be exact and saw Maice and I set off in our PJ's to the 'luxury' toilet block at the end of the muddy track. It was a chilly dawn morn and not wanting to be unpopular by waking everyone up we strode out in our pyjamas along the boardwalk and watched the sunrise. We may be freezing out here whilst the others are tucked up in their little cocoon beds but they just don't know what they're missing. The wildlife was just waking; we saw a Monkjack deer which crossed our path and we stood and watched a huge hare washing itself in the middle of the lane. After an hour we were that cold we made our way back to the boats actually looking forward to eating Neilly Mou's porridge!
All but Timmy and Maice were in a dilemma so a cunning plan needed to be hatched. How on earth could we decorate the birthday boats without causing suspicion. Fortunately in the anticipation my insides got the better of me and I spent the next ten minutes with my head hanging over the river bank and viewing the insides of a plastic bag. Not to worry, the dilemma was now sorted. The motley crew were sent off for a morning stroll around the boardwalk whilst a rather pale former shadow of myself set about decorating the boats, taking care not to fall overboard on my unsteady legs.
The Admiral was back first and was delighted to see the girlies boat decorated with pink bunting, a 50th birthday balloon waving around in the breeze. And then he saw the boys boat, decorated with blue bunting and a ballon bobbing about in the breeze announcing to everyone he was now 70! Maice appeared next and feigned surprise.......of course she had an incling that something was afoot what with all the loud whisperings going on, but she acted well and secretly both were delighted at what we'd done. To top it all a birthday cake was produced, half in pink and half in blue decorated with a boat for Timmy and a Ceasar cocktail for Maice. No expense had been spared and the cake had been topped with sparklers. Oh what a treat when we finally got them to sparkle.....ah, takes you back to your childhood days. We all tucked into the cake which Maice passed around to the rather bemused onlookers who thought they had chosen a nice quite spot to moor and then we prepared to set sail.
The usual conflab took place about who was sailing with whom and on which boat. It was decided that I should stay on the girls boat, just in case of any further 'inside' developments and was joined by Roger, Graham and Claire. Probably not the best decision that came out of a conflab considering 'the crash' of the day before however we must now take this opportunity to clear Graham's now tarnished reputation and put right that which has wronged him! Indeed, the debarcle whereupon he drove the boat into Stephen's already moored boat was actually not Graham, it was Ready About Roger. And indeed, it was Graham on the bow keeping a look out, shouting warnings to Roger. But alas, Ready About Roger wasn't ready enough, forgot which way was forward and reverse, struggled with the throttle and consequently got himself tangled up with a stationery boat! The truth will out Roger, the truth will out. So Graham has been exonerated from the wrongful accusations put against him and can hold his head up high once again, well for the time being anyway!
The boats set off at a leisurely pace and such was the calm, tranquil nature of the sailing and feeling a tad weary I took herself off for a lie down. A while later I was rudely awoken from my slumbers.....the boat, rocking from side to side seemed to be travelling at a fast rate of knots. What on earth was happening in the world beyond the cabin door. Sliding back the cabin top I was showered with leaves, twigs and branches. Must be having a nightmare, I mused and made my way back down below.
Honestly, boys and their toys! Captain's Roger and Stephen felt the need to expose their sailing prowess to each other and promptly hurtled down the river as fast as their boats would take them, each pinching each other's wind in an endeavour to slow down their rival. The race was on..........tacking and a-jibbing up the river, Roger in the lead, now Stephen, now Roger and on it went until finally Roger, overtaking Stephen, cried out that good old sailing term 'Water' (I'm overtaking, get out of the way). Now, in normal circumstances any good law abiding sailor would politely move aside allowing Roger and his boat to pass but alas, on this occasion, it was not to be. 'Noooooooo' came the response from Stephen and the two promptly collided into the bank. Tree confetti reined down on both boats, Stephen even collecting a branch under his bowspit! Neilly Mou was at the ready with the quant pole, now renamed Neil's Pole, but on this occasion wasn't required. One would think that after the unruly behaviour encountered by both Captain's they would 'calm down, calm down' but no, Stephen, in his eagerness to 'race' to get to the next stop first ran out of leeway and hurtled straight into the bank cutting a tree in half, dead. With bark on his hands and a dead cadaver tree on the bank, is anything along the riverbank safe!
We finally arrived at our night-time destination in Stalham, Richardsons Boatyard to be exact, moored up, cracked open the drinks and regaled myself, who had finally surfaced and looking not so pale, with the 'tales along the riverbank'. It was time to resume the birthday celebrations.......having already celebrated with pink cava at lunchtime, we were going one better. Such was the success of last years 'Laverstock Cocktail Masterclass', Maice and I decided to host another one, this time in the art of making a 'Ceasar', the national drink of Canada. There were a few sceptics who were unsure, particularly when they saw the ingredients but we would soon change their opinion. The table was dressed with a nice colourful tablecloth, most definitely required as it could get messy, then out came the vodka, clamato juice, celery salt, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and pickle juice......stick it all in a tall glass, give it a stir and add any of the following; celery sticks (preferably with foliage) and on a wooden skewer add gherkins (yuk), pickled onions, olives, green beans, peppers, in fact anything you want. Add a cocktail stick, a straw and there you have it, a healthy, forest in a glass Ceasar cocktail....Enjoy!
We finally made it to The Swan for supper where more alcohol was consumed and food was ordered, except for me who didn't quite have the stomach to order anything and made a hasty retreat back to the boat and to bed when the food arrived at the table. Never mind, the merriment continued on with the usual round of perudo. Roger, who was sat next to Maice whispered that they should secretly team up and help each other out, which they did, much to the detriment of Maice who was well and truly stitched up by Roger, who in fact went on to win his first ever tournament!
So that concludes another great day of messing about on the river, in sickness and in health a great time was had by all......certainly that's what friends are for.