Came back via Harwich, where I met up with Bev, and stayed with her sister Lisa and her partner Cath. It was a really nice few days and we were made very welcome by Lias, Cath and all their family, including the cats.

The trip there was very good. I changed from Jubilee Line to train at Stratford, and the largest number of different kinds of trains I can remember at any modern station. You go through a large amount of countryside, where about 2/3 of the arable fields were harvested, then come to the Port of Harwich, which has ships, components for massive wind turbines and even larger vessels to put them out at sea.

We were treated to dinner at the Tower Hotel and were well impressed. I asked for what I could not eat to be wrapped up for the cats, and got a tinfoil handbag from the redhaired waitress. The only downer was after we left, and me and Bev bought icecreams from the Coop next door, which were half melted and vile. The Coop is an abysmal chain, seemingly run by franchise holders who neither know nor care; and if they are not franchised they are an utterly abysmal organization.

We also took the ferry (1984 ex Royal Navy landing craft) to Shotley. where we had drinks at the Bristlo Arms (good beer but little choice) where we watched a Thames Barge and blokes who arrived in a Robin Reliant and walked off along the beach with a big bucket. I do not they built sandcastles.

We also had a drink at the Shipwrecker (loads of choice but poor beer and expensive) where I had several wasps seeking sugar off my skin, with one having to be rescued from my beer, and a very small black beetle going at hundreds of very small miles an hour.

Back at Harwich we popped into the Alma and talked to an ex-Merchant mariner who used to sail into Manchester Docks with newsprint. We also talked to families who were crabbing (fishing for crabs with bags of bacon on strings) on the pier. All the crabs were thrown back when the buckets got too full. I am certain the crabs will get whisked out of the water several times a day. I what to do it early of a morning and paint numbers on them, then ask people to report what they catch. The crabs cannot get much nourishment from a few seconds on a back of bacon, but reckon they get addicted to it.

In the evening we went to meet Cath’s family and have a Chinese take-away, a treat for me, as it is probably over a decade since my last one.

On the trip back we talked (and I mean Bev and me talked, and she asked the better questions) to a bloke who has lived Indonesia for years and is a Disaster manaager. He was off to see his mum in Grassington and managed to get through the barrier at Leeds, get and drink a pint, and get on the Skipton train in only a minute more than it took Bev to go to the loo and for us to get on the train!

The only shame of the whole trip is that I did not manage to sort anything out for a possible show, especially for the Sea Shanty Festival.
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