Returning from Austria

7B304946-6E78-4379-893D-58FE4689A145So we have had a fantastic ski holiday. Maria has gone from being a little apprehensive because of her boots to loving every minute. She is now desperate to get back on the slopes.

After our last day of skiing I have had to clear quite a bit of snow from around the van, including an area for us to turn around. There is also a lot of ice under the van but he comes off the pitch with no problems.

We have decided to leave early, you have to leave the camp site before midday or you are locked in and charge an extra day. So it is before 10am and we are coming off the site,  B68C79C9-87F8-4931-9F1C-FA70C7CE5571The staff are back in their big snow ploughs and are clearing up the six inches of overnight snow and one of the snow ploughs blocks our path – I vaguely remember a similar scene at the start of the Italian Job and that didn’t end too well for the sports car. Today we’re all playing nicely though with the snow plough moving out of the way so that we can leave. The snow chains have been left on the front tyres from when we arrived so we have good grip as we proceed downhill through the tight little roads to get back to the exit. FDA11E4F-8179-455A-A288-B9FD71419334Knowing that the roads are excellent once you get out of the resort we decide to stop early to remove the snow tyres.  This isn’t as mad as it sounds because the motorhome is fitted with snow tyres which have been fine until the conditions get a little extreme. As expected the roads are excellent as we head through the villages and back down the mountain to the motorway and being a Friday the traffic is light.

Quite often when we are travelling, Maria is very happy and singing songs and we have the videos to prove it.  However, after quite an energetic holiday with a fair bit of apres ski and dancing, Maria is a tired bunny and spends most of start of the journey asleep.  Looking around, the cats seem to have suffered the same so I am the only one awake with my music gently playing.

It doesn’t take us long to get out of Austria and of course one of the things we have to do is return the go box (The method for pay paying motorway tolls for vans over 3.5T in Austria). I stop at a petrol station and go to the go box queue to see how much of my €70 of credit I will get back. Last year, when we went to St Anton, i received a few euros but part of that was my fault when we stayed on the motorway after missing our exit. This time however, we get back over €60! Result.

13FE35D3-5BC7-45C8-9660-ABE080608DD4Maria and the cats have woken up but Maria is paying the penalty as she has to sit there with two cats on her lap since they both want their mum. You may wonder why Maria, in the picture, has a large pillow on her lap and a cushion underneath it. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the cats like to spread out and Clyde in particular is a big cat, he needs the pillow to give him enough space. The cushion helps to keep the edge of the pillow up so that he doesn’t fall off the front, definitely something he would do. The pillow also provides protection from Bonnie’s claws. She likes to pad on her mum’s legs and she has claws like needles. Sometimes, Maria forgets the pillow and I am reminded when there are several gentle screams as Bonnie gets herself comfortable. I usually have to stop the van to get the pillow for her because Maria doesn’t stop after a few minutes but just continues to do it.

As well as checking out what is going on in the world, Maria also has the task of identifying where we will stay overnight. We want to be four hours or so from the Eurotunnel which means a reasonably long drive on the first day. We decide to go through Luxembourg which will be another country for the cats to tick off :). Maria finds a really good site adjacent to a fire station with electricity and other facilities. We will be stopping at a reasonable time too. We arrive as it starts to get dark but all five spaces are full. We could find a spot to stay but we don’t want any trouble or to be moved on so we decide to go for another site.

Maria finds another site at Herbeumont. This looks quite good with a mixture of hard standing and grass and it can take 53 vans so at least it won’t be full. It’s a fair distance away and after about 30 minutes we arrive to a sigh that looks like a crime scene. A lot of the village has red and white tapes cordoning off large areas of the grass.  As we find the site, we notice that there has been a lot of rain in this area maybe there has been some kind of show because everywhere is covered in mud.  27389E1D-46EA-4B50-B6C2-DB95963EB3F5There is not a single van in the site, is it closed? At least it is secluded 🙂 it is now getting late and we are going to be leaving reasonably early.  So we are staying but we are not going to risk going axle deep in the mud. So I stop on the hard standing in a quiet spot and we start to get dinner ready.

Since we have stopped, the cats want to go and explore the area. This is going to be a bad idea but the constant moaning is eventually enough to get Mummy to let them out knowing we will pay for it later.  Within thirty minutes there is a little scrapping on the door and Bonnie is asking to come in. Bonnie has grey stockings naturally and so you know she is filthy but she doesn’t look too bad.  She still gets the full cleaning treatment with a damp cloth and towel! There is then a loud thump on the step as a big cat jumps on it. I open the door to find a brown cat. Clearly not Clyde because he is white. But, it is the size of Clyde and makes lots of noise just like Clyde. Oh no. This clean up operation is a lot more work and more akin to when my parents used to clean their dogs in Spain after a winter’s walk. We get rid of the worst and the good thing about Clyde is he is meticulously clean but he will have his work cut out. Of course five minutes later, as we are eating dinner, Clyde is moaning at the door to go out – absolutely no chance, mate. Forget it and sit down.

It’s an early night, for us because we want to get on our way early in the morning, do some shopping and then get an early train so that we can be home by early Saturday evening.

The next day the drive to Boulogne is uneventful although we do pass Waterloo, nothing to do with ABBA, Amanda Furber ! I was very interested in history when I was a teenager but I have never been, funnily enough Maria has, and we agree that we will take a weekend and go there at some stage.

The route we have taken has again been toll free after leaving Austria and we have even been able to find really cheap fuel so it hasn’t been bad at all. We are now thinking whether we should try this route down to Italy but it a slight detour and the tolls to go through Austria are high, so maybe not.

Now you can’t leave France on your way home without stocking up on “essential” supplies and despite being on a diet which means we are not drinking wine (and won’t for a few months yet), we decide to stock up at Maria’s favourite, Auchan. I am always a little apprehensive about parking in the large hyper markets. 675C6BFC-8E13-41DA-9231-D6FA7EE51E54The motorhome needs two parking spaces and still slightly overhangs and of course you need more space to swing the back out to turn out of the space.  For this reason I normally park quite a way from everyone. I used to do this when we had a Lotus  Elise so that people didn’t park close and ding the doors. Whenever I returned to the car, it was like an island of cars with the Elise in the middle. I guess people just wanted to look. Unfortunately, it seems the motorhome is the same and despite having parked with eight spaces around me, I return to find cars on all sides. This should be interesting.

Maria and I load up the wine and some other supplies and I ask Maria to stand at the back of the van to check the rear corner doesn’t get too close to any cars. One thing that has shocked me about the motorhome is the brilliant turning circle. I fully expected to be constantly doing three point turns but the lock is unbelievable. Of course the other side of the coin is that the large overhang at the rear swings out a lot, hence Maria’s role. Surprisingly, we have nothing to fear and the van comes out of the space perfectly in one take and I can wait for Maria to come back into the van before driving off. Top safety tip, don’t drive off without her. Nothing will happen to you in the van, at least until she catches you up at which stage you are dead meat. Fortunately I am enough of a gentlemen to not drive too far and she is back in the van with the cats patiently watching her and waiting for the pillow to go back on her lap!

It isn’t long to get to the Eurotunnel and with pets on board the first job is to check in the cats.  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe rules for cats are very different to dogs at immigration as long as their rabies is up to date. The process is very simple. Surprisingly, there aren’t many cats travelling back to the UK so Bonnie and Clyde are normally quite popular with the staff. Another advantage of going to the pet check in is that sometimes, when there is a queue, you actually bypass it quite effectively but today, despite there being cancellations, the queues aren’t too bad.  The cancellations mean that we can’t get on a very early train though, despite arriving at a good time, so we will be waiting a little while. Oh well we tried.

The train journey and drive home are uneventful and we are back early evening which allows us to get some food. We decide to finish off our holiday with a meal out, at Aqua 8 in Ipswich which is a nice Asian fusion restaurant and the people are also very close to our good friends in the China chef in Colchester. This means great food and a lovely chat too so a perfect end to our holiday. We try not to regret it too much the next morning though when we discover that we have gained three pounds in a couple of days. That’ll be the lack of exercise whilst still eating and drinking but at least “easy on, easy off”. We’ll be back on the diet tomorrow.

We’re home with a day to chill before returning to work. It’s been a great holiday but I guess now we just need to go back to work to pay for it.

Shorepower problems and batteries

We were just about to go on holiday at the end of January when we suddenly started to have issues with the shore power. It seemed like there was a loose connection somewhere and so we had to trace it back from the pontoon power supply.  It became clear that there was an overheating problem in the plug that goes into the boat. This had caused the plug to partially melt! This was a replacement plug that had been fitted by an electrical engineer in our early months of ownership.  He no longer works for us on Mariadz.  When I eventually got into the melted plug we found that the live had been stripped of all insulation inside the plug and some of the wires were broken. This looked like they had been cut when fitting the plug, since the break was quite sharp and clean. We think with up to 16A going through this wire, it got hot especially with a little water ingress to add some corrosion to the mix. Clearly we couldn’t use this anymore and we were grateful to have found it before something more serious happened, you hear of boat fires caused by this kind of thing.

Still the whole premise of Mariadz is that there should be redundancy in all systems For instance we have seven different electronic means of navigation, as well as paper charts.  So we have a plan and will use the batteries during the day, topped up with a little solar.  If the batteries get too low and definitely in the evening, we would run our generator to provide 240v for the heater, aircon etc and recharge the batteries for the next cycle. That sorts it out while we get a new plug ordered and the cable checked.

Not a bad plan, we have 880Ah of domestic batteries and some energy saving especially around the lighting which is all LED. O think we are in good shape to run this setup for as long as we need with limited additional charging.  That evening, we have the batteries coming back up by running the generator and the boat is warm since we have been running the reverse cycle air conditioning. It gets to bed time and so everything off, remembering to switch off the hot water, because the immersion heater really takes power when run from the batteries. imageSo our overnight load is not great, even with the fridges and everything else running we shouldn’t take more than 10% of the total capacity or 20% of the available capacity running throughout the night.  I get up in the morning to find our battery monitoring reporting 0% capacity! Have I inadvertently left something on? I check everything and there are no problems. Running the generator during the day gets the batteries back up but it seems very strange.

In the evening, after running the generator the batteries are not fully up but they seem to be most of the way there.  We go through the same bedtime routine, and I double check the power usage, it looks fine. The next morning we have the same result. So now we have no shore power and our batteries are failing!

We do have a further fall back position though, we have bought a long extension lead with the right plug for the pontoon power supply so that we have power on board without running the generator. This acts as a sensible short term solution but obviously doesn’t give us hot water, microwave or the aircon units.

I have ordered a replacement Marinco plug from Fox’s chandlery but when this comes it is the wrong one, a simple mistake to make despite our checking and the chandlery checking the order before we placed it! 9D65561D-89F2-4F05-B846-17F21E1A2549Ollie from Seapower usually does our electrical work and unfortunately with me and Maria working hard at the moment, we can’t afford the delays while we sort this out ourselves. We just need it done and can’t wait for me to get back late from work, reorder, wait and then fit.  Ollie comes on board and wires us a temporary solution while the plug is being delivered and also checks the batteries.

When we got Mariadz, the AGM batteries had been fitted in 2010 and we don’t know how well they had been treated. Ollie asked me to review our replacement options particularly around AGM or Gel batteries. We had discounted Lithium because it remains four times more expensive than the other two, however it looks great for the future when the price comes down and I suspect in another 7-10 years when we are looking at our options, lithium will be the choice. So we have discounted the expensive option for the moment and that leaves us with a like-for-like swap of the AGM batteries or a swap to Gel.  One of the main advantages of AGM is its ability to handle a high current drain but this is a large domestic (880Ah) bank and so it is unlikely that we will have drains of this type. The Gel batteries on the other hand are suited to slower discharge rates and warmer temperatures, now you are talking Maria’s language. We decided that the Gel better suited our likely use in the future and went with these. In the end we got a good price for Victron batteries which hopefully will be well suited to our inverter/charger and solar MPPT controller, both of which are Victron.

While we are on holiday, Ollie is able to source the batteries and also get a new plug lost asked for a second plug wired to a 32A plug, the boat can handle both 16A and 32A input and so we should be able to handle either size of supply on the pontoon.  It will hopefully stop issues where they run out of 16A power and we have to share a reduced capacity.

So quite an exciting, and unfortunately, expensive time! One consideration though is that the batteries must have been near their end of life. I don’t think seven years is too bad a lifespan especially when we don’t know if they were treated well in the early years.  We knew we would have to replace the batteries before we left on our trip but had hoped it would be nearer to our departure date. The other thought is that we could have discovered the issue with the batteries at the start of the season when we anchored overnight. Then the delays getting the problems fixed could have stopped us sailing for a few weeks. That would have been frustrating so maybe we should be grateful. Finally, due to Ollie’s swift action we were able to keep the fridge and freezer running and so didn’t lose a lot of food, this was a concern especially going on holiday.

Two weeks in Fieberbrunn in a motorhome

Most people who know us and are still living in homes think we are mad for living on a plastic boat especially in the winter. Imagine how they think when they hear we go to freezing ski resorts in a motorhome. We must be good in the cold! Those who know Maria well will know that she is not one for the cold at the best of times and so both the boat and motorhome are kept toasty warm.

We had finally arrived in Fieberbrunn after an eventful journey and had set ourselves up with piped in gas and electricity. So no problems with the internal temperature.

58F7D4A8-9401-44CE-93F0-1B54BEA4406EOn arrival, you could see there had been a lot of snow already this season but over the space of the next 24 hours, there was two feet of fresh snow! That will sort out the holiday. As the snow came down, visibility was poor but the advantage of having two weeks skiing is that you don’t feel as bad if you miss a day and don’t feel obligated to go out in any conditions! It’s the first Sunday and so we decide to walk down from the resort to the village, exploring our surroundings and getting a feel for what is available. But first we have to get out of the van…

So we walk into town on a Sunday… France…. and we have walked the mile into town, we get there and it is closed! Everywhere is closed, including the supermarkets. The town is quite small but looks like fun so we’ll come back when it’s open.

“We walked a mile into town”, I didn’t expect to be writing that.  For the last few months, Maria and I have been on the Cambridge Diet and have lost two stone each. It means we are a lot more active than we used to be and for Maria to agree to a long walk on icy and snowy roads is a major change.

The next day, it’s a little clearer but there is a lot of snow everywhere.  Maria is apprehensive about going skiiing because she is worried about her feet hurting.

Maria has had problems with ski boots since we started skiing and is a little unhappy that my boots are like slippers and really comfortable whilst hers kill her.  We tried to resolve this a few years ago in Chamonix, when we took Maria to the best boot fitters in town. They sized, heated, cooled, expanded parts of the boot to fit the shape of her feet and shaped an inner sole so that it was perfect.  It cost a lot but Maria’s happiness is important and we can’t have Maria’s feet hurting – or Adam’s ears hurting as she complains! We returned a few times to tune the boots further and the guys did everything they could. As we went to Courcheval the following years, we went through the same process with their expert boot fitters, including even more inner soles and more expanding of parts of the boot. The pain was still there. I now believe that these are the most expensive ski boots in alpine history and I’m sure it would have been cheaper to have them cast in gold and lined with fur, obviously responsibly sourced fur – our cats shed enough for this job! Anyway, after several years of refitting, Maria’s feet still hurt after a couple of runs and I spend a lot of time on my knees trying to adjust the boots to make them comfortable for her.

The vast amount of snow in the first 24 hours would make skiing hard work, particularly on the feet and this isn’t helping Maria bite the bullet. 66B66D21-7689-4110-BE8A-87E7741E26C4Also the weather has closed the links from Fieberbrunn to the other parts of the ski circus so we would be limited to local skiing anyway.  We’re up late in the morning and Maria agrees to go into town again to get some shopping for the next couple of weeks. So it’s another walk and we arrive at lunchtime, the town is closed again! But at least the supermarkets are open. Of course we can’t get too much shopping because we have to carry it back, but at least there is a bus that drops us off back at the ski lifts just above the camp site. So two days in and we haven’t done any skiing yet but that doesn’t stop “skiing injuries”. In places the town is very icy and Maria’s all weather boots are not as gripy as they could be, she slips over four times over the two days and bangs her knees quite hard. So we haven’t even started and Maria is injured already. We’re worried that Maria is going to struggle to “bend zee knees” as she used to hear regularly from her ski instructors. Of course a way around this is to apply some kind of ice pack. Or lay in the snow. Or do a snow angel in the snow…

We get back and all of our Austrian neighbours are busy clearing snow from their vans and pitches, so they’re not making snow angels then. They take all day doing this, constantly wheeling snow to other areas – it’s tiring just watching them. At the same time the staff are scurrying around the site in large snow ploughs – no, Maria, no snow plough, as Maria’s ski instructors would also say. We pop out to get Maria some new snow boots that she can walk in without falling over and please note that no alcohol was consumed at the time of these accidents! There is a huge Sport2000 ski shop near the lifts and Maria finds some nice new snow boots so hopefully no more accidents.

The fact that we are not skiing doesn’t get in the way of the apres ski though and we have tried all five bars in the ski area and have already identified our favourite, S4 Alm. Maria has got a taste for Aperol Spritz and is “enjoying” Austrian apres ski with its unique music! The video is a bit dark but you get the idea!

In the evening when we are home we use our amazon fire stick to catch up with TV, our favourite programmes and some films.  The cats are happy to have us around too. 2E849EAE-2B48-41F4-8630-9BB8A5103AC9Unfortunately, I still have to do a little work and I am on a few calls with our main software suppliers and the execs from the Trust where I am working. That doesn’t take too long and a little effort now means I can relax for the rest of the holiday.

After so much snow the weather turns and it starts to heat up. It means in the low village of Fieberbrunn, we are getting rain. The worst thing for snow is rain since it washes the snow away but there is so much snow that we should be ok.

The next day is clear and bright. We still have loads of snow and it is finally time for the skiing to start.  We decide to take a nice easy blue to start off with so we can get our ski-legs sorted out. Half way down the blue and Maria’s feet are aching already. 😦

Now Maria has decided that if her feet hurt on this holiday, we are not adjusting the boots again but she will rent some boots and see how they are.  We are back to Sport2000…”we’re having boot problems and would like to rent some”. They sit Maria down and try some new boots on her. They are the same make as the ones she has but the boot shape is slightly different around the front of the foot. We agree these are a good fit but the true test is out on the slopes. “Can we try a rental pair of this type please”. They apologise but these boots are not available in the rental section…. 😦 . But….you can try the ones you have on and if you like them, buy them, if not, pay a rental charge. That sounds perfect, what amazing customer service. We take the boots back to the van and prepare for a days skiing with the new boots.

The next day we are up at a reasonable time and we give it a go. The first run is a disaster, in the shop the staff have adjusted the boots to reduce the push forward in the boot but this doesn’t work with Maria’s skiing. Maria is struggling to keep her weight forward, leans back, loses confidence and seems to have gone back ten years.  We go back to the shop, these aren’t working. They re-adjust the pressure on the back of the boot, we’ll give that a try tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day. The first run is a triumph and Maria is happy. 1E0464AB-B1DD-4544-889A-403103341CD5In fact she does several runs, hardly adjusting the boots at all. Best of all, is that with the weight loss, Maria is more than comfortable to bend down and adjust her own boots, not the easiest job sometimes. It means I am not on my hands and knees at the top of every lift.

To break up the skiing, we stop for lunch and Maria and I try the traditional Tiroler Gröstl. This is a meat and potato dish with an egg on top and comes
with a fantastic salad at the S4 Alm bar in Fieberbrunn. Not really in keeping with our diet regime but we have worked out if we are skiing then the reduced calorie count may not be healthy, so having had a few days on the diet we decide to eat sensibly but come off the diet for the rest of the holiday.

Later we’re back in the shop with a happy smiling Maria. The guys are pleased. We have done a few runs but we don’t want to push it too hard on the first successful day and so the guys suggest we take a third day with the boots to make a decision.

Morning of the third day (post new boots) and Maria wakes up. She has no pain in her feet but her quads are starting to hurt! Result, that is an ache I can do something about. B59D76B6-510C-4CE9-B91D-754147406A32We know exercises you can do to get the quads sorted but in our experience there is nothing you can do about painful feet. So day three and we decided to ski over to Hinterglemm. The lift we get up takes us past the camp and we can see the motorhome nestled in looking up at us.

The boots are feeling fine and Maria is loving it. She is enjoying her skiing and her legs have warmed up and the quads aren’t painful anymore but they will hurt later.

The connection to the rest of Saalbach Hinterglemm is via a couple of long enclosed lifts but these have a relatively early close so we need to have an eye on the clock or it will be an expensive taxi ride home. We have first hand experience of this from a family holiday in La Plagne when we missed the last lift to get over the top of the mountain and be able to ski down. We had to ski down the wrong side to another village and the group of us had to pile into a minibus to get back to our resort. Every time the taxi driver got a call on his phone he shouted “Oui” down the phone, and he got a lot of calls. By the end of the journey, we were all shouting “Oui” when the phone rang and giggling hysterically. He got the last laugh though when he charged us €100 for the trip home 🙂 Needless to say we try not to miss lifts anymore!

The skiing in Hinterglemm is great with big wide pistes with great snow.  14DCC6D7-C617-42C5-B3C4-1D917CD0635DMaria is enjoying herself as we take the last lift up to the bubble lifts to return home. It’s been a good day and the boots are working exactly as you would want. But it has been a much harder ski and Maria can feel it in her legs.

So Maria has painful legs and that normally means that she will be demanding massages all the time until they feel better. In my experience, men and women have rather different views of massages…. Maria believes that she should be massaged regularly and her aching limbs should be relieved. Like a lot of men, I see massages as foreplay which probably means the massage part doesn’t last too long ;). But Maria can have them as much as she likes….on my terms….  Hmmm, or maybe not 😦

Anyway, we also have a spa booked for the evening which will help with Maria’s legs aching. Actually the spa is wonderful. It has everything you could want but Maria has found the “spa for two”, this is a private room with a gold hot tub in the middle of the room, a double shower, a steam room and a water bed (I’ve never been on a water bed)! Did I mention the Moët? Or the fruit bowl? E3B7AEAF-B0F3-461D-B665-F58851B739C0Then we look at the decor….there is a painting behind the bed, two naked people talking the talk of love, there are statues of naked women…you get the idea! No? On our little tour of the room, the lady shows us the TV with DVD player. There are two DVDs, the history of skiing, available in German and English. Alternatively, there is a dodgy shoe-fetish porn video! No prizes for guessing which was in the machine :).  But if I’m honest, I didn’t know that Mathias Zdarsky first skied in Austria in the early 20th century…. or that some guys find stiletto heels sexier than quite attractive young ladies!

The upshot is that Maria’s legs don’t ache as much the next day! And I have a smile on my face because she is happy.  It appears that footgate is over and we have a Maria who loves her skiing and isn’t fighting pain. Absolute result. I’m sure those who have skied with Maria over the years will be equally excited at the thought. 195F53A1-0E87-4F6A-84DE-D99B2FBE6A43On this day, we have agreed to meet a friend of ours from the marina, Grahame. He is skiing with some friends and with Maria’s new found energy and pain-free skiing, she is keen to do more. We’re back off to Hinterglemm where we meet up with Grahame and friends before having a ski around the area. We intend to stop for lunch but time is ticking on and it is after 2:30pm when we eventually stop. 74DEEA79-CA98-4301-ABB1-E07943209404We’re about to order food but just as discretion is the better part of valour, we decide that cowardice is the better part of discretion and get the lift back to the returning bubble lifts. We’re not sure how long it will take to get to the lift and food may just make us miss the last lift! Needless to say we get there quickly and leave with 40 minutes to spare.

In the past, we have taken our four children, and their partners if applicable, skiing and they are now very nice skiers having all learnt fifteen years ago. Now with Amie in Australia, Rachel in Leeds and both Matt and Kristy with busy lives, we find that they don’t join us any more. But the offer is always there. Matt had been having a bit of a hard time with two “w”s: work and women! We decided that we would surprise him by organising a long weekend when he could join us and get away from it all.  The arrangements were made and the Penguin was on his way! I should probably explain that…. Matt mostly wears a black ski outfit including a black hat, with a few splashes of white. A few years ago, he was keeping his arms very close to his sides with his hands and poles out at 45 degrees. With a typically French skiing style of legs and hence skis close together, he was branded the skiing penguin! Now Matt is a lovely skier but the name has stuck.

Matt arrives and after a quick change he is ready for a gentle ski having got up at C72C899C-F515-4043-AF80-925402F90D5F4am to catch his flight. Anyone who knows Matt will realise how difficult that must have been! But it is one of his loves and so sacrifices have to be made. After a few runs it’s a relatively quiet evening because we have big plans for the next day.

With the joining up of Fieberbrunn to Saalback Hinterglemm, the Ski Circus has become a large horseshoe of ski areas with Fieberbrunn at one extreme.  The other end of the horseshoe is Leogang and there is a bus service back to Fieberbrunn. This is quite a lot of skiing and includes a 7km run around the back of the mountains.  This will truly test Maria’s new found energy levels, comfort and stamina. The day is a triumph with lots of skiing and perfect conditions. In all we ski thirty kilometres before just missing a bus that goes once an hour. We’re tired but really happy and Maria is wandering around in her ski boots without a care in the world.

We take Matt out for Apres ski at the S4 Alm bar which is rapidly becoming a regular haunt. Here he is subjected to a German language oompah version of sex on fire, it is exactly how you are imagine it (if you have a warped imagination that is!). There is also what can’t only be considered the Johnny Depp (Johnny Däpp) song which includes his name repeated often with a euro beat behind it! Very popular with the ski-boot wearing, table-top dancing Austrians, and one not-so-quiet British girl…..

Ah, I now can’t get the Johnny Däpp song out of my head….

If you have watched the video, I expect you are in the same position as me….Johnny depp, depp, depp, johnny depp, depp, johnny, johnny depp….

The Sunday is Matt’s last day skiing and so we decide to have a good day and then book into the public part of the spa, no interesting skiing videos here I’m afraid. The area is lovely and I persuade Maria and Matt to get out of the outside heated pool and sort their feet out by putting them in snow for a few seconds. They are both back in the pool very quickly! My feet? Oh I think they are fine actually and I’ll stay in the nice warm pool. The spa part also has various saunas, solarium, steam rooms and jacuzzi baths. Did I mention that it was no swimming costumes? Poor Matt. His first European spa experience is having to get into a whirlpool with us and two naked Austrian ladies. He handles it well.

7F81A555-2486-4490-981C-A9F188A4B46ABut before all of that, Matt and I decide to clear the remains of the snow from around the van as preparation for our departure at the back end of the week and to avoid the icy path around the van from becoming a death trap. I borrow a large snow shovel to start moving the snow and Matt sets about the icy parts with various tools. It takes quite a while to clear all of that snow from around the van but at the end we feel accomplished and have done a good job. It certainly prepares us for the spa experience.

After the spa, we go to the nice little restaurant at the camp and have dinner. We have come out of the spa all wearing onesies so you can imagine we get some funny looks but we don’t care as we laugh and giggle. The food is really good too with a particularly nice hot chicken on a skewer with flames below it.

Too quickly, Matt’s weekend away is over and he flies back to the UK. We’re back to just the two of us, and two cats. 6FCFE2E0-2DEE-460C-9207-6669146D1C9FSome people have asked what do we do with the cats when we go skiing. Well, while the mice are away, the cats will play and we generally get back to two tired out cats with all their toys strewn all over the van.  When we return, we always let them out and Clyde is keen to explore his surroundings but 925234D9-CC18-4A58-8EC5-8D7C476609F1Bonnie isn’t one to go out in the cold and will pop out but within seconds returns to the warm. Clyde likes it outside so much that quite often we need to walk around the site calling his name to get him to come home. And five minutes later he will be moaning to go out again. During the day the cats are actually very settled, they have their spots in the van and they like being near us when we get home so everyone’s happy.

With Matt on his way home, Maria decides that she enjoyed the long run to Leogang so much that she would like to do it again but do some different runs to the same destination. This is slightly shorter but again she has a great day and we arrive in Leogang very quickly and at lunchtime. This is where we discover that the hourly bus doesn’t start until 3pm. We’re not hanging around for a couple of hours so Maria books a taxi and we get to experience the expensive way home, how come every taxi between ski resorts seems to cost €100?

The holiday is going quickly now and the bright sunshine and warm temperatures we have been experiencing are starting to change.  There is snowfall due to arrive by the end of the week and this should get to us by the last ski day of our holiday.  Hopefully it won’t be so much that we struggle to get the van out.

It’s the last day and Maria is keen.  She is up early and we are waiting for the lift to open in the morning. That is a first! We have planned to ski the Fieberbrunn area rather than going further afield, especially with snow coming in for the afternoon and overnight. We have a plan for the morning’s ski which incorporates some favourites, that are made even better because we are the first people on them and they are immaculately groomed. After some time to get her legs warmed up and remove the aches, Maria is loving it. I am trying to make sure that we still do a fair bit of skiing and have a route in mind subject to Maria’s legs being fine. She is doing great and we take a tricky red from the top through the trees. This leads us to the top of the run where it all began ten days previously. The blue where Maria’s old boots finally signed their own death warrant. It’s actually a very nice run and Maria is loving it.  In fact loving it so much that towards the bottom she suggests that we get a couple more lifts up and do an additional three runs before calling it a day! Those boots have magic powder in them. We head back up for definitely the last runs….. we eventually take a different, and harder, route home with another red run through some trees and that’s it we’re done by lunchtime. Maria pops back into Sport2000 to thank them for everything they have done and by the time we come out, the clouds are in, visibility is awful and the snow is falling. Perfect timing. Although it will mean that I will be getting the snow shovel again and digging us out before we can go anywhere – where’s your only son when you need him.

We get the skis back to the van and let the cats out. Bonnie sees white stuff falling from the sky and makes a bolt back for the van. 01EA6735-4FDE-4861-80F0-38A1316ADFB5However, Snowflake, as Clyde has now been termed, is loving the snow and getting covered. He just doesn’t care.

It’s not the first alternative name that Clyde has had. During last year’s ski holiday, Maria’s calling of Clyde in the evening was misheard by some of our neighbours who thought she was “Cedric’s mum”. We decided that Cedric was Clyde’s alter ego, so whenever he was good he was Clyde but sometimes Cedric turned up! Both cats also have some other alternative names which are probably best not repeated since they normally come out when they have been naughty or have been able to conjour up a particularly strong smell in the litter box.

Returning to the skiing, what an amazing holiday. The ski passes allow you to log how much skiing you have done and we find that Maria has done over 150km of skiing during the trip.  On a couple of days Maria was nearly at 30km of piste travelled.  All that hard work has also helped with our weight loss. We had been eating reasonably sensibly but we did say that we were going to enjoy the holiday and deal with the consequences. Maria had even brought our scales so that she could understand how we were doing. By departure day we had actually continued to lose weight without being on the diet. That changed on the trip back when we were driving and not being active but certainly was a pleasant surprise.

As for costs, another pleasant surprise. We had used the private spa on a couple of occasions which obviously added to the bill but the electricity and gas cost was a shade over £100 for the two weeks and the heating had been on all the time.

Probably the best review you could get of the holiday would be that we have decided to go back next year, same weeks and same place. It must be pretty good if you decide that while you are out there!



Directors’ chairs

Mariadz has a spacious saloon with a large table meant for many people to eat and socialise around. And Maria and I have done our fair share of that! I expect that will also happen a lot when we go on our travels, if the opinion of John Rodriguez (the yacht broker and round-the-worlder) is anything to go by.

Although there is a sofa on three sides of the saloon table, you need standalone chairs for one of the longer sides if there are a lot of people.

Originally when we first got into boating we OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbought some cheap and cheerful directors’ chairs with Mariadz on the backs. These are lightly made and don’t stand up to much punishment, or time, particularly. In fact we have gone through a few sets of these as they have fallen apart. Being a bit of a hoarder, I have generally salvaged what I can from the broken chairs to use as spares for future chairs. However we always decided that, before we go, we would splash out on some well made, sturdy chairs that will last.  Unfortunately these cost nearly ten times as much! So that expenditure hadn’t been prioritised….

I am in the fortunate position of having both a mother-in-law and a step mother-in-law who I get on with very well. Jean, Maria’s step-mum, wanted to give us some money at Christmas and we were keen to buy something that would last and was tangibly from her.

Step forward our beautiful new onward trading directors’ chairs. 3220___3262a1We knew what we wanted and so went to the London Boat Show earlier this year with the intent of finding these chairs.  We rarely do to this show any more because there is hardly anything there, preferring the Southampton boat show, but we were in luck and stumbled across their store. The boat show price was good and we were also able to get Mariadz embroidered on the backs in gold, I’m assuming real gold.  These chairs are built from harder wood which is thicker, feel sturdy and good quality and are light years ahead of the old chairs.  The cushions are very comfortable although we also had other options on these which Maria had to think long and hard about. It means that we spent More than an hour choosing exactly what we wanted, and this also included having to find our friend Dan to give us another opinion! When you consider that we knew exactly what we wanted before we arrived, this sounds even more ridiculous. They are now in pride of place in the saloon.  This has presented me with a couple of problems: Maria now looks at the upholstery in the saloon and wants to change it to match the colour of the seats and they are so nice I am loath to put them into the lazzerette for fear of damaging them. Now I need something to protect them! Maybe another bag….

Finally, and most importantly, thank you my step mother-in-law Jean Smallwood.

New bed for the master (or mistress, I mean lady of the house!)

When we bought Mariadz, she had a mattress in the aft stateroom that was good quality but had seen better days. It did not fit the platform well and the two halves of the mattress separated during the night leaving a moat to catch the unwary “traveller” in the morning.  Clearly, this was more of a problem for Maria than I since she often sleeps like a starfish with all of the covers in the winter and none in the summer (only joking darling….?).

Our first, temporary, solution for this was to buy a memory foam IMG_3943topper for a king sized bed which went over the top of the mattress.  This worked well and stopped us being eaten by the gap in the bed. It also meant that we slept on something new rather than on someone else’s bed. I know you do it all the time in hotels but somehow it feels wrong when it is your own bed.

The long term solution was to replace the mattress completely and make sure that it was made to the right size.  After much investigation, discussion and consultation, we decided to go for what we felt was the best: a Visprung mattress from Passmore. It’s good enough for the Queen so surely her ladyship should be fine with it.

D85609A4-C118-4336-9D69-C53432FB4A80This wasn’t the cheapest option but we were keen to have a long term solution. Julie-Ann at Passmore was really helpful since we were keen to have a joined up mattress with two different halves. The split is needed to allow access to the storage and machinery (aircon) under the bed. Despite the knowledge that they would be a perfect size we were still keen to have a zip joining the two mattresses together and since nobody wants to sleep on a zip, a cloth cover over the zip to make sure the 3B94A5D2-1DE6-4B94-B473-075E1AE65682bed was comfortable. The visprung beds are quite firm and there was an option to go extra firm which Maria toyed with, in the end we are grateful that we went with “only” the firm mattress.

As you’d expect from a quality company, the workmanship and fit are perfect and so now there are no excuses for not crossing the border to the other side of the bed…..poor Maria! This may entail a strip search.

Skiing in Austria – the trip down

Some people laugh at the fact that we take our cats skiing.  But the cats love it! They chill on the motor home while we are out and then go out for a walk in the snow for a while when we return.  The small space in the van means they are always close and so we have found they love their holidays.  Obviously they can’t ski, without thumbs they would struggle to hold the poles and after the trouble with Maria’s ski boots and can’t imagine how we would get Bonnie fitted. But of course they could snowboard!?! B8AC5927-D403-4AC2-8F12-32A2881B2385 Maybe like their ginger friend…..

Last year for our ski holiday we travelled to St Anton and stayed at a beautiful campsite with a plush adjacent bathroom.  This worked really well as a bathroom, toilet, washing area and drying room.  It also meant that we didn’t have an issue with damp on the van since this was all done in the en-suite.  This was a stroke of luck actually because we had found the tanks had frozen after a few days so the only source of water we had was from our heated outhouse.  This was a little disappointing that the water system froze since we had bought the winter pack for the van, with tank heaters to stop freezing, but these had been reset when the power had gone off for a short period and we hadn’t noticed. The water supply in our bathroom was fine and it therefore wasn’t too inconvenient.

The costs in St Anton were quite reasonable too, with the two weeks costing about €600 for the rental. We did make the mistake of using electricity for our heating though.  This is less efficient than the gas and our electricity bill for the two weeks was about the same again – still a lesson learned. St Anton was great with a short bus ride to the skiing area but while there a couple suggested that we look into Fieberbrunn which is now linked to the Saalbach Hinterglemm ski area. Maria had set about sorting this out and had found a great camp site which is a short ski down from the runs and approximately 50 metres from the lifts.  E3B7AEAF-B0F3-461D-B665-F58851B739C0Like St Anton this one had a heated outhouse but maybe not quite so plush. However, the other facilities were excellent with a heated indoor/outdoor pool and a spa. We knew Maria would want to spend some time in there.

Our traditional route south when we go to Italy takes us mostly through France and we pay a lot in tolls to get there at a good pace.  The suggested routing followed a similar route but cut through to Switzerland and then Austria but for a few minutes longer we could travel through Belgium and Germany avoiding the French tolls. We decided to give this route a go and it looked like it would take about twelve hours at our normal cruising speed. It would also mean no tolls until we got to Austria.

Maria likes to start the holiday early and it also helps if you can cut out the two hours on the UK side before checking into the tunnel for the train across the channel.  We have found it takes four hours from home to get to Calais and so we break up the journey with an overnight in the UK and another half way to Austria.

So the day before our holiday, we drive down to the Eurotunnel or more precisely the Drum Inn which is a few minutes away from the entrance. We are both due to be working from home the next day and this allows us to do our jobs, pack up and be on the train nice and early.  The Drum Inn is a pub with camping facilities in one of its gardens.  This includes power, toilet and shower facilities and it isn’t too expensive. Although Maria and I have been successfully dieting for the last few months, we decide to eat in the restaurant. There is a reasonable selection and good quality without being amazing or too expensive, so good pub food.

The next day we are up early and both working away, the traditional rush before you go on holiday.  I have prepared a handover document but unfortunately we have had some problems with a supplier at work and it looks like I will be doing a few calls and meetings while I am away, not ideal but the price you pay if you want to do a good job I guess. The day goes quickly and it is soon time to leave to catch our train.  We are hoping that we can catch an earlier train but that isn’t possible as although we have arrived early, I still have some calls to do. We therefore have some time to consider where we will stay overnight. Maria has always been really good at finding places to stay on holiday, even if some of the motor home destinations have meant us visiting three or four different sites before she is happy. We decide to stop at Cologne in Germany and Maria finds a large hard standing area right on the river that isn’t too far away from the major roads. We will be arriving quite late especially with the extra hour of the time difference but it will leave us a seven hour drive the next day and so Suicide Sam the SatNav is programmed and we are ready to go.

The journey through France is uneventful with limited traffic and good conditions. It seems no time at all before we are in Belgium and approaching Brussels. Now Brussels has a by-pass but I had made the mistake of not checking the map at this point so I was not too suspicious when Sam suggested that the ring road went the wrong way and we should come off and take a short cut that he knew – go into Brussels, its gorgeous! I was a little dubious but we gave it a go…..into the centre of Brussels! I imagine this route is 100 metres shorter than the by-pass but of course with evening rush hour well underway the is a lot of traffic. We are making progress though and so maybe we will just chalk it up to one of Sam’s idiosyncrasies. F20DDF0D-D6ED-43A6-9E9C-92DB493B9A0CAs you approach the centre of Brussels there is a beautiful building in front of you, the Basilique Nationale de Sacre-Cœur à Koekelberg, which looks magnificent. It guards the entrance to the Tunnel Leopoldo II. It is very pretty, thank you Sam for showing us this……. and then we have a 2.2metre height restriction on the tunnel! Sharp turn left, since that height would take off our heads as well as a lot of the van, and turn around. We had not come too far so we probably only lost 15-20 minutes with the detour before we are back on the by-pass and safely on our way to Cologne.

We arrive in Köln (Cologne) in the dark and find a very full motor home park with excellent facilities right on the River Rhine.  It’s a very nice quiet spot near the bustling city.  It is quiet enough, and late enough, to let the cats have a little bit of time outside the van and they go off and have an explore. 46286852-6193-4A8C-A240-9B27E2C6ED85To be fair they have been great for the entire journey with Clyde spending a lot of time on Mum’s lap and Bonnie sitting up high keeping an eye on things. Obviously except when she also wants some mummy lap time – they really are awfully big cats to have on your lap for a long time. They are incredible really and never bother the driver, although Maria doesn’t get any rest!

At the site, we’re hooked up for power and even though we will only be there for a few hours we have to pay the price of €12 for 24 price. A quick dinner and early to bed, we have seven hours driving tomorrow to get to Fieberbrunn and it would be good to arrive mid-afternoon.

We are up, fed and ready to go by 6:30 the next morning and excited for the last part of the drive. Our route from Cologne will take us close to Munich and into Austria but we will have to stop for fuel towards the end and also sort out the tolls for Austria.

Generally a day’s driving in the motor home equates to a need to fill up with fuel and as we leave Cologne, we need to stop and get some fuel having not done it the night before because it was late. We fill up for £1 a litre which is a refreshing change. Sam has a partner in crime on the motor home, Roger the range man, who tells us how many miles of fuel we have left. After filling up Roger is incredibly optimistic “I can take you to the moon and back….”, however after a hundred miles or so he starts to realise that its hard work pulling a motor home and maybe 450 miles is a better guess! When he then gets down to about 30 miles left, he sulks and refuses to give you any more information! It seems to be if you are going to run the fuel down that low then I can’t be bothered to tell you how close you are to running out. Anyway between the two of them, we are kept on our toes.

We are making good progress, despite a few delays, as I drive and Maria either sleeps or keeps up with what is going on in the world, that’ll be a combination of Facebook and the news then.  We are closing on Regensburg which I am reliably informed has family connections on my Aunt’s side, shame we didn’t know earlier, we may have stopped off to say hi.  It’s getting close to lunchtime and we still have several hours left to go.  That is when Sam tells us there is a major problem at Munich, with nearly an hour and a half delay! But it’s ok, he has a plan to get around it that he wants to share….ok…… Sam once more we will trust you as we come off the motorway to find another route South. Sam’s route takes us across country to another motorway heading towards Munich, I guess to get around the roadblock. We join the new motorway and it is all looking good, we’ve only lost twenty minutes or so. However, ten minutes later, Sam hits us with the news of a 101 minute delay on this road…. thanks! More suggested detours but we are getting concerned at the circuitous routes that Sam is now choosing. We have lost two hours though so how bad can it be, especially when this motorway joins up with the last one we were on. We are three hours away and have been that far away for a long time despite covering a number of miles, we agree to give him one more chance. Sam successfully finds another route with no nasty surprises but we have still lost time.

As we approach Austria our original 2pm arrival has turned into 6:30pm and we have lost any chance of arriving in the light. I also have to buy a go box which is how you pay for tolls in Austria when the van weights more than 3.5T. Last year we were stung by this, you pay by the kilometre and due to Sam getting us a little confused we had to go up and down the motorway a couple of times with the box pinging as the credit disappears. It meant that when we left Austria and handed back the box, we got very little money back. This year we stop at the services and I show our certificate of conformance that shows the engine category. I get the go box with a five euro charge and the minimum seventy euro credit, let’s hope that is enough since we have no idea how many motorways we will use to get to Fieberbrunn.

Actually it is surprisingly little as we are soon off the motorway and driving up the very clear mountain roads towards the resort. We’re driving through villages and small mountain towns, you can almost taste how close you are. It is snowy but the roads are very clear and although we have snow chains, there is no need.

After 800 Miles from home, we finally arrive at the Tyrol camp and discover that we have about 45 minutes until the office closes for the night at which time the gates are locked and you can’t get on site. So we had inadvertently cut it quite fine. I turn up the hill followed by a car although the road isn’t as clear of snow as we have found so far. Turning a hairpin corner, the car behind stops and waits, ah that’s kind… we start to head up the last 100 metres to the entrance and stop, spinning wheels on the ice. We’re going sideways on the ice, not good. There is an entrance down on the outside of the hairpin so I gently roll us back down to there, now we know why the car waited! A kindly driver coming down the hill stops to explain that the camp have a tractor since they are used to this and they will tow us in if I pop up to the office. I get the papers and start to head up the hill leaving Maria mostly blocking the entrance and the road but at least there is a way round if people are careful. Let’s hope they are!

I arrive in the office and check us in, getting the keys to our bathroom etc. I ask about the tractor to help us get up the hill and am informed that they use a 4×4 to tow in caravans and no chance that they will try and pull in a 4.25T motorhome! “Do you have snow chains”, “yes”, “well you have 40 minutes to get them on then! 5970F83E-C412-4718-9F54-029747CA990B”. I trudge down the hill and explain to Maria that we have to get our new snow chains out and fit them quickly, and this will be our first time.  Fortunately I have a large old cardboard box that I can lay out flat on the floor to provide me some protection against the snow.  We have them out of the box and I vaguely recall how it works from the time we test fitted them onto the land cruiser a few years ago, the instructions are the same but it will take some time.  At this point a very kind Austrian gentleman came down the road we were blocking and seeing our predicament and our confused faces, took control. He had clearly done this many times before.  He had them fitted in minutes and we did some roll forward and back tests before tightening up and we were ready to go. Maria tried to ply him with a very nice bottle of red wine as a thank you but he would not have it and left us with only our gratitude – aren’t the Austrians nice!

We gently drive the last 100 metres and have 20 minutes before the gate closes. 7B304946-6E78-4379-893D-58FE4689A145Even with the snow chains on, we’re struggling for grip, I wonder if I would have had more luck if I had reversed up the hill. Obviously with Maria walking ahead of the van…. may be that isn’t such a great idea after all. Anyway we’re in! Now to negotiate the even thinner, snow-covered roads within the site to get to the far corner where our posh pitch is located. I am just about to turn into the very tight blind corner after reception when I see the lights of an oncoming vehicle. It is a four wheel drive BMW with no snow chains on but with winter tyres and he brakes ten metres away, locks up and drifts gently towards us….I think he misses us by inches with nowhere for me to go but it reminds me that the potential for disaster on this trip is far from over even without Sam’s help. A couple more cars drift by with a subset of wheels locked up before we can start to head up the hill.  We find our pitch which is on the edge of the site facing the lifts and slopes, what a perfect spot.

We have parked up and are starting to get ourselves sorted out when the man in the 4×4 pops by. He is clearly very happy that he didn’t have to tow us in but sets about giving us access to electricity and then looking at how he can plumb in the on-site gas supply into our van.  This is amazing. We can’t store enough gas for two weeks solid use in the snow and so being able to be “mains-supplied” is brilliant. We are assured that cost wise it is cheaper than buying the gas canisters, which of course we can’t get in Austria anyway since the UK vans by default have a UK canister.

It isn’t long before we are all settled down, our dinner is cooking away, Clyde is out exploring, Bonnie is refusing to go out because it is too cold and the holiday can begin in earnest! That is another story for another day…. but one thing I will say is in the next 24 hours we had two feet of snow and I genuinely don’t know how we would have got there then!


Rib cover and line covers

Having bought a very nice walker bay rib a few years ago, we had noticed that it was 20180218_152518getting dirty and damaged by being exposed to the elements.  This will only get worse when we are full time sailing.  The solar panels provide some kind of shelter like a car-port but to protect it properly we needed a cover.  Once again dolphin sails were chosen for this work and Paul Gray helped us to design it so that we can also use the rib for light storage on passage, by adding a zip in the section closest to the yacht.  Clearly we can’t put too much weight up here though! We don’t want to put a strain on the davits or tip ourselves over….20180218_152533

Fitting it isn’t easy and I haven’t quite worked out how to do that if we are not stern to a pontoon or dock.  The design encapsulates the davits and so it can only be fitted properly with the rib raised.  I can see me having to climb out on the davits at times to get this on properly, better keep on the diet I guess! And hold on tight or I’ll be swimming.

At the same time, we had new covers made .
from the same material for the lines that run to the cockpit.  This hides the lines and keeps it neat and tidy.  Bonnie and Clyde are also happy that their beds have a softer base. The things we do for these cats…


Our very own “Anne Plummer”

Mariadz is quite a large yacht and the saloon is a very comfortable area to sit.  We have always been keen to modify her to make this area more comfortable or nicer to look at.  I think you could argue that the saloon table itself is a work of art, but with a large area of wood on the wall behind the seating, we were keen to break this up with something spectacular.  saloonFor a number of years we had discussed a piece of art for this wall, inspired by the Moody Mornin’ Gorgeous that we looked at when we bought the Moody 54. In  fact we had previously commissioned a picture from an artist in Long Milford of our last yacht, the Dufour 455. It was amazing as he put together various different elements to form a picture of “our” boat that had never been taken. The picture was good but a few months ago we went to a small exhibition at Ipswich marina of a local artist, Anne Plummer.

Her work was jaw-droppingly good.

We had been lucky to meet Anne and her partner Mark on another friend’s boat relatively recently, Mark from Motion. So we already knew that she was a nice person even if we were unaware of her unbelievable talent.  At the show, we made our decision that Anne was our artist for the signature piece of art for Mariadz.

A few short weeks later we spoke to her about the commission. imageWe have a picture from our first weekend sailing which is a dynamic picture of Mariadz sailing at 8.5knts down the Orwell.  We asked for the enhancements we had made to be included such as the solar panels and the rib.  In response, Anne had said no outboard on the rib… “they’re ugly”, we also discussed whether the water should be “Orwell brown”, perhaps not! IMG_3795

Based on these two pictures, Anne was able to do some initial drawings.


it was clear straight away we had made the right decision on our artist. 973B060C-D4D4-41BD-A891-00FF0653ED6DThe first sketches showed the power of a yacht and really teased us as to how the art would look. A few short weeks later and the work was done. Anne had deliberately made sure that the painting didn’t look like a photograph and the key to knowing that it is an original Anne Plummer is that there are cat hairs within the painting. More proof that we had the right person!E822AF90-E81B-474F-A32E-0346CC36287F

So then we had to think about framing. In these instances, you have to ask an expert, and so Anne’s opinion was important to us.  After a long discussion, Anne recommended a couple of framers in Ipswich. We visited M F Gallery and Framing, and spoke to Owen.  Anne has work hanging in the gallery and is well known.  We discussed the decor on Mariadz and agreed that the frame should pick up some of the new wood that we had in the saloon, namely the maple. Owen was really helpful and we have heard some good reviews of his work. The maple had to be ordered in but a couple of weeks later it was all done and up on the wall of the saloon.

So now we have an original Anne Plummer! I have to admit I am in awe of people with genuine talent like Anne and I can’t help keep looking at the picture and the detail she has put into it.