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Thread: A Burn(t)s Night Cook Off and a Surfeit of Haggis

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    Default A Burn(t)s Night Cook Off and a Surfeit of Haggis

    The Clowns were a gatherin'. Sorry, that should read, the Clans were a gatherin'. Or should it...


    Once more, McBonar had called us to his Banner, and I'm sure I heard the traffic news mention an unusual number of canoes on the roads causing heavier than usual traffic, as I rushed headlong into the fray. Via Lidl, the officially approved SOTP wood provider for these trips (please sponsor us! ).

    Lacking the smug, stuffed full grin of my fellow "first wave" paddlers, who had already been eating since dawn in the Bread Basket cafe, I was still pretty happy to be at the put in ahead of schedule, and even relatively quick, i.e. less than an hour, in loading the canoe full of food, wood and ballast of varying varieties. After a serene shuttle thanks to Dick going way beyond the call of duty and turning up just to do that for us, we were soon afloat next to the warm old stones of Thrapston's 9-arch bridge.









    As always, Mark was but lightly laden, carrying only the essentials necessary for a long weekend in the wilderness.












    Given our heavy state, the locks came in rather useful, despite their forbidding nature on this otherwise lovely river. I had great fun trying to get both mine and McBonar's canoes in the lock together, held with a line round the yokes and under a knee.









    McBonar, meanwhile, was in charge of the Operation.









    Below the lock, the sun was shining and the next couple of miles would be a most pleasant way to pass the day.


















    In fact, it was glorious, a perfect river, under a pale winter sky, meandering across a tranquil rural landscape. Of course, all the way, there was banter and backchat galore. And possibly some erudite conversation, though not where I was!















    The countryside was stuffed with bird life, woodpeckers, kingfishers, red kites, buzzards, ducks, cormorants, wrens, warbly things, and lots of LBJs (little brown jobs). There was also a very low flying kestrel, captured superbly in Robin's video.












    Titchmarsh Lock was our next obstacle, easily passed with the requisite key and windlass handle. Less easily passed by the later group....who had to lug all their gear around









    Did I mention that it was windy? Remarkably, this was from almost behind us. Fran briefly grabbed umbrella and sailed...straight into the next bend. All this achieved was to ensure the permanent removal of Fran's Australian Leather Bush Hat, which took the opportunity to head down under at some point, never to be seen again. Like its two predecessors...






    I joined Fran heading back up looking for the hat, a forlorn hope, which meant we were a little later getting to camp than the others.






    Sadly, we weren't too late to help set up Camp Central, and start to circle the tarps against the wind.






    Others arrived, and eventually there were 9 of us, and an assortment of sleeping compartments and contraptions. We got down to the main event for the evening....the great Burns Night Cook Off, for this was actually the night itself, though the haggis would (mostly) be reserved for the Saturday Celebrations with the whole group.


    We each chopped, stirred, prodded, flipped, mixed and peeled, to produce our own, very loosely, Scottish themed meal. Pete opened a can. We would be scored by very public democratic vote, on things like presentation, taste, ingenuity and Scottishness.












    Now for the hard bit. Remembering what everybody cooked and matching it to the photos...so in no particular order:


    Fran: Baked camembert with garlic bread, followed by mussels and frites. The Auld Alliance being the slightly shaky link to Ecosse, perhaps.









    Martin: Smoked Salmon McRisotto, with rice from Highland paddy fields. Possibly the wrong Highlands.






    Pete: McJalfrezi, with unknown meat and highly exotic rice.






    Andy: a Haggis McRisotto, using one of the rare web-footed variety, which live in said Highland Paddy Fields.






    Myself: Bilberry McBambi with a thyme and juniper Bannock. Sounds Scottish, but with the best Yorkshire Venison and probably South American blueberries substituting for the bilberries!









    McBonar: Haggis Nachos, almost the wafer-thin mint at the end of the contest.






    Ben: BigMacs. Not those ones!









    Stewart: Tempura Deep-fried Mars Bars. As Scottish as it gets!






    And Robin. I've left Rob till last. As that's when his was served up. Not that he started last, mind. A random curry with lovely home-made naan bread was basically his dinner and nothing to do with the competition, but we stole it. This was followed by the rather exciting Haggis Scotch Quail's Eggs. Eventually. First though, each quail's egg had to be peeled. Each took 5 minutes. There were 12...












    The results, though, were outstanding! Once he learnt how to stick the haggis together!












    I honestly couldn't move after all this, washed down with a variety of different ballasts. Of course, we'd each cooked for at least two, if not three, and it ALL got eaten...


    Eventually, as I felt it necessary to stay up very, very late to allow the food to settle, aided by a few wee digestive drams, we went to bed.



    (Continued)
    Last edited by Mal Grey; 30th-January-2019 at 08:04 PM.
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    Lightly Laden....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weekender View Post
    Lightly Laden....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hah. You saw an accidentally released early version then!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Hah. You saw an accidentally released early version then!
    Well you know what they say any fool can be uncomfortable.
    No chance of that judging by the stuffed to the gunwales canoe
    A fantastic looking trip and all that food....



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Default The Day of the Haggis

    Somehow, it was morning already. Today would be a day of pottering, wood gathering, and perhaps some of us would head up to meet the final arrivals later. First, though, breakfast.



    Eventually, a few of us headed out and scrounged wood from fairly nearby, though most wasn't of a particularly good quality.












    A small group later headed upstream to meet the others, fighting the wind at times.












    At the lock, coming from below, an opportunity was spotted, as the portage was a bit of a pain, gates in the way and so forth. Robin spotted a lake next to us. Just a few dozen acres of it that I'd never really noticed before...

    It appeared to offer an alternative approach to the headwaters of the Brancey Brook, where we knew the others would descend to camp. And there was nobody about to ask...









    Just a couple of minutes into the wind, and we were ashore, just a few yards from the brook, an easy drag. With rare perfect timing, the others were visible opposite, portaging into the stream from the other side.









    We played on the weir flow a little, before gathering below and heading down this narrow, winding stream.









    The Hippo was very casual about the little rapid flowing down from the weir stream...


    ...you can't let a little riffle or two get in the way of a cup of tea!






    The Brancey merges into Harper's Brook, which took us back towards camp, forming as it does the other side of Peartree "island" on which we were camped.















    Just above camp there were loads of trees cleared a year or so ago, so perfect for our needs. Lots of it disappeared into, or onto, the canoes.









    Returning to camp, the kettle was on. Its a big un, found for 15 by Fran! We now had plenty of wood to fuel it...









    It was nice to have a visit from Terry, a shame he couldn't stay to join in the music.










    Given the amount of food already consumed, and with the main banquet still to come, the Australia Day BBQ was a little smaller than it might have been. Fran was still game, and produced pork and chorizo burgers and chicken goujons.






    And then it started, just before dark. 12 hours before it ended, for some.


    There were loads of volunteers for peeling, mashing and photography. OK, the last was just me.












    The haggis was skinned, boned and wrapped in foil.






    The drinks cabinet was prepared.






    Robin would prepare the starter, Cullen Skink, McBonar the main event, Fran the Franachan pudding, and Andy the cheese and port.









    The guests were getting rowdy. And tartany.






    The Cullen Skink was a masterclass.






    As the final mashing and preparations were done, Stewart cleared some room for what he was about to receive.






    Fran has been practicing on the pipes. She now knows which way up to hold them. Anyway up, they piped in the Haggis in style.









    McAndrew gave the address, as McBonar served the beast.












    It was, as always, magnificent!









    We lay down for a bit.


    Soon, Fran prepared her speciality, the fabulous Franachan.









    For the rest of the evening, see Robin's video!


    http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...blawn-its-last



    Basically, in an effort to reduce the ballast to carry onwards on the morrow, some of us overdid it a bit. The Band formed, never a good sign, and ensconced itself in the biggest tarp under the spotlights, strumming and warbling for something worryingly close to 6 hours....

    Enough said.


    Tomorrow, the retreat!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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    Default The Morning after the Night Before

    It was too early. People were moving around making noises at well before 7am. I rolled back over.


    Oh, that was camp blowing down.



    Well, it was somewhat less upright in the morning. It turned out that Robin had already left, as planned, he hadn't simply been blown away in the night, for he was sleeping under the main tarp.






    Still, there were other priorities.









    Sluggishly, with a heavy head, camp dismembered itself. Eventually, most of us were ready for the off, though a few had disappeared and Fran had gone the wrong way, downwind. Surely that couldn't be right, making a sensible choice when faced with a headwind!?


    The rest of us headed for Wadenhoe. This was a shorter trip than planned, considerably so, but the wind was forecast to be gusting 40mph+, and was constantly 15-20, and we couldn't be bothered to fight it for hours...









    It was beautiful, but hard work, until we reached the shelter of the tree-clad slopes for the last mile.





















    A small car park full of "you're going to die" type signs was our finish point.






    What a fabulous weekend, such good fun, wonderful company and many memories. My body is not going to forgive me quickly, and is hanging onto the memory too, around my waistline.


    Thanks to everybody, but especially to Mark, Robin, Fran and Andy for Sat night food, Dick and Terry for shuttles when not even paddling, to my fellow musicians for a great "session" that actually seemed to work at times (must have been the booze) and to the Friends of the River Nene for providing the location that makes it all possible.

    Until the next time!


    Last edited by Mal Grey; 31st-January-2019 at 09:58 AM.
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    Nice one Mal. Summed it up superbly.

    Robin
    The early bird may catch the worm... but the second mouse gets the cheese!

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    Thank you Mal for another wonderful blog, you've made me very jealous.

    The scrumptious looking food in such enormous amounts may have laid me low while recovering.

    A great gathering and all that food, firewater and fun, wish I'd been there.

    Doug
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    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


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    Nicely blogged Mal......and nice too to see pics of the Nene taken with a different eye to mine.

    I will try to sort out a camping spot midway between Peartree and Fotheringhay and maybe reconvene for a Halloween on the Nene tour.

    Peartree is an island, but a flippin' big one which is connected to the 'mainland' by the Aldwincle road and Titchmarsh lock!
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

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    My mouth is drooling just looking at those photos again. Glad I was there to sample it first hand.
    A great weekend, thanks again to everyone.
    Bootstrap
    There's no such thing as inclement weather - you're just incorrectly dressed

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    Loved this; loved Robin's video. Very sorry to have missed you all.
    Hope to be able to join something a little later in the year.
    Great stuff!
    Ian

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    Superb blogg as always but of course some of that credit has to go to the rest of the paddlers for providing quality blogging content
    John

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    Great to see you all, wish I could have stayed for the food and music too, although I did get my first taste of Haggis [off the bone ] in Robins superb take on scotch egg. Spared a thought for you all as I lay in my warm bed listening to the wind, outside and the odd bit inside ... Joanne.
    Thanks for the warm welcome and hospitality. All the Best Terry

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    Mal.
    Having left central London this evening, just before they shut 'the snow gates' at 2100hrs...(The Daily Mail Editor should be 'shot at dawn' for this kind of scaremongering!) I'm home now, relaxing, having hastily prepared my "Oh, no! Not again, stuck out in the Snow overnight kit' - prior to my Abergavenny assignment, kicking-off at first light tomorrow morning....

    So, once again, I will be stepping outside....and I may be some time!..... (Don't wait up! )

    Above now it looks like you nailed it once again fella! (I'm beginning to question myself why I now bother bringing a camera along on a trip, if your names already on the list! )

    However, there are still one or two shots (that I would like to post here) that are original, and will never be duplicated....because your trigger finger was on a plectrum at the time!

    So, permission now Sir! To post a few original pics from the recent Mc Bonar Mc B collection, as so far unseen, and certainly unsavoury... to say the least!

    Stand- By Your Mc Beds!

    As I was lost for words...


    The Band Played On!
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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    With nil return from all previous carrier pigeons so far sent, a final request now this evening, for permission to post a few 'so far unseen pics'...with nothing too incriminating, I may add!

    So, its once again..."Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Broadsword calling Danny Boy, come in, over"....

    "All looking good from here Skipper, we're now heading through the locks".

    "Any word from the front?"
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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    S'cuse me Sir, but do you have a licence for that collander on open water?

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    Deleted sorry. No licence.
    The early bird may catch the worm... but the second mouse gets the cheese!

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    Post away McBonar!
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    Fashionably late to the party, here are some photos from the Saturday support team ...













    Micro Kenny and friends came to meet us.



    All action on the Island





    Nice to see how the MkIII should be paddled!


    Terry's awesome canoe made from .... leftovers. Craftsmanship at the highest level.


    Another master craftsperson at work




    Sorry thats all from me - camera memory card played up after this.

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    Fantastic bloggs everyone, very impressed....EXCEPT,... Bell’s!

    OMG, even Rabbie wouldn’t drink that muck.

    Next year we expect to see a quality malt.
    Chris


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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrish View Post
    Fantastic bloggs everyone, very impressed....EXCEPT,... Bell’s!

    OMG, even Rabbie wouldn’t drink that muck.

    Next year we expect to see a quality malt.
    All the drinking whisky was decent malt! That was just a prop, and maybe a mixer for some!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Post away McBonar!
    Message received ... and will comply shortly, Sir!

    In the mean time...


    "Please stand by your plectrums!"

    Lot's more yet to add, but once again out of time!

    Loved your pics John! - Esp. those showing the effort that Fran put into the Franachan that week-end, suffering at the time from that bad cold lurgi that was going round, that would have had most of us there that week-end, crying off, had we all had it! - An Outstanding lass!

    Re. "Fantastic bloggs everyone, very impressed....EXCEPT,... Bell’s!


    OMG, even Rabbie wouldn’t drink that muck.

    Next year we expect to see a quality malt. "

    The Giggling Andy Mc Logger the noo wants tae know....

    "What's so wrong wi' mi Bells!?" (Well, that's what I thought he said! )
    Last edited by Bonarmbj; 8th-February-2019 at 12:05 AM.
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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    Whilst I now have the chance...."Bon Chance" as they say! ...

    Here's a go word, that may be used from here on in ....and you heard here it first!

    "Martin's in the lock, we have Martin in the Lock..."

    "Hemlock is now in the lock.....Go! Go! Go!"

    Come on Ridley Scott, gives us a chance!
    bobt : If we get the gig, you're hired for observational detail
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    All the drinking whisky was decent malt! That was just a prop, and maybe a mixer for some!
    Okay, you're forgiven!
    Chris


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonarmbj View Post
    Re. "Fantastic bloggs everyone, very impressed....EXCEPT,... Bell’s!

    OMG, even Rabbie wouldn’t drink that muck.

    Next year we expect to see a quality malt. "

    The Giggling Andy Mc Logger the noo wants tae know....

    "What's so wrong wi' mi Bells!?" (Well, that's what I thought he said! )
    I rest my case!
    Chris


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    OK! OK!..
    From here on in we only use the 'cheap whisky' for the gravy..
    ...and very much keep 'the Burns kit' close at at hand!

    Now, if we're talking real whisky here , then we'll need to drought in Sirus (Pete) for this one!
    A little something special from Pete's Cellars ....cue now the Pink Panther music!

    It may not be now Kato, but Pete's timing on the night in question was just perfect!

    Whereas I may need to work on my timings as far as serving up the the Haggis Neaps & Tatties goes...

    ...and trying to keep it warm whilst serving 'ootdoors on a cauld, cauld night'...(Work still very much in progress here!)

    Talking of work, try some bargework!



    At best, not for the faint of heart I'd say!....

    Don't give up the will to live yet, there will be more!
    Last edited by Bonarmbj; 10th-February-2019 at 01:30 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrish View Post
    I rest my case!
    I feel I need to defend our communal whisky choices, as this is an important, nay vital, part of all such trips.

    The Bells is just for the whisky macs which sometimes appear.

    I will admit that, this year, I didn't bring my usual Laphroaig Quarter Cask or Talisker, but it was at least an Islay malt I brought. I took a risk on a Lidl own brand bottle; it was passable. Sirus provided a higher quality malt but I can't remember what it was, thanks presumably to the other Islay malt.





    As for the catamabarge in MBJ's photos, I'd love to know how much it actually weighed! Took some getting going, and took some stopping!
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    This years malt was Tamnavulin speyside single malt, just the thing for around a fire with good mates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirus View Post
    This years malt was Tamnavulin speyside single malt, just the thing for around a fire with good mates.
    Ok, you.re all forgiven. Just remember next year to hide the Bells under the table when taking the blog pics (or use Photoshop).
    Chris


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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrish View Post
    Ok, you.re all forgiven. Just remember next year to hide the Bells under the table when taking the blog pics (or use Photoshop).
    Phew. I was worried about my reputation for a while!
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    Phew! ....Thank goodness the whisky situation is now over!... (I just knew when I bought that bottle of Bell's.... it would mean trouble! ) Hey, it's nae tae bad mixed wi a Stones ginger wine though, heh?

    Now, as far as the rest of this adventure goes , is there still an appetite left for this blog?...

    If not, then here's your chance to look away and run or paddle away as fast as you can!

    If you're still here, then it's self-inflicted, no one else here to blame except for yourself, I did warn you! ...

    An appetite now left for this blog..

    Why can't it be Burns Night every night? ...I'd be happy wi that!


    With memories of which to be cherished! (Whether we're locked-up together or not! ) ...or maybe, we just should be!

    Duplicating pics now...as initially that I said that I wouldn't...

    Frans 'campfire cooked' Baked Camembert with Garlic Bread.....Every man has a breaking point, and I think now that I've just reached mine!

    Now, just to keep the record straight....
    Andy, Logger 158 wasn't the true proprietor of the Bell's whisky, as may so far appear, though he did giggle a lot when he got to 'the mixing table'...very much down to the lyrics of the band that night!..

    Andy thereafter produced a rather good Port with Stilton cheese on Oatcake biscuits! ....(You can take the man out of Swindon....but, you ain't never gonna' better him, and that's for sure! )]
    Quality!


    With just one or more pics to go....just grit your teeth...and it'll all be over soon.....I promise!
    Last edited by Bonarmbj; 12th-February-2019 at 01:41 AM.
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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    ...whilst the band played on.

    Very much to our delight!
    Last edited by Bonarmbj; 12th-February-2019 at 01:44 AM.
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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    Among the many great things about this blogg is it is one of the very few bloggs that make it look like I pack light
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    Among the many great things about this blogg is it is one of the very few bloggs that make it look like I pack light
    Compared with McBonar on full feast duty, HM the Queen travels light.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bonarmbj View Post

    Now, as far as the rest of this adventure goes , is there still an appetite left for this blog?...


    With just one or more pics to go....just grit your teeth...and it'll all be over soon.....I promise!

    Keep 'em comin' McBonar, keeps us going till we go "over the top" at Henley!
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    I've recently been thinking about travelling a little lighter these days...

    By maybe just cutting down on the midship root vegetables, and leaving the forward charcoal chimney starter at home maybe?...
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

  36. #36
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    As a true Scotsman I can confirm you can never have too few vegetables
    John

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    "Give a man a fish and you can feed him for a day : teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"....

    Aye, we've al heard that one! But have you heard this one?

    "Tis best ye gi yer spare tattie peelers tae a bunch of Englishmen on Burns Night... ( + 1)... an' yer neeps and tatties will soon be dun fella!"

    Hoping now to serve up the last few pics from this epic adventure....

    With Fran on the Hindu Kush teapot...

    With the lads in the background discussing, I don't know what!?

    Very much worthy now of a caption competition!


    Don't be shy now ! These boys can take it!

    Whatever the weather!

    The final portion to be served shortly.....

    Have I got Trews for You!
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

  38. #38
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Fleet, Hants..
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    As a true Scotsman I can confirm you can never have too few vegetables
    John,
    Getting back now to your original reply ....I should have replied with this one really, before going off yet another tangent!
    ..and before I go off on yet another one!

    "I may not yet have paddled in Sweden, but I've certain paddled many a time with a Swede on...board! " ....Very much around the 25th of January each year!"

    Fi Bonar Mc B

    All Readers : Please note the above essentials when you next want to 'Rock the Nene' ( I just stole that line from IDC, because it was brilliant! )

    Rocking the Nene before Halloween....

    The Burns' Night Essentials....
    A Balmoral Bonnet, with or without regimental cap badge, plenty of heavy duty iron-works from which to cook with, 4kgs combined of raw neeps & tatties plus 500g of Carrots and what looks like to be a free-loading red onion, just coming along for the ride!

    Plus, a titanium lock spanner, to help keep the weight down a bit!

    Sorted!
    Last edited by Bonarmbj; 21st-February-2019 at 12:05 AM.
    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

  39. #39
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Fleet, Hants..
    Posts
    2,870

    Default

    Re. "Keep 'em comin' McBonar, keeps us going till we go "over the top" at Henley!"....

    That was just the encouragement that many didn't want me receive!


    "Just make it stop, please! "


    With just less than half a doz. pics left to go...Sorry all, but you're just going to have grin and bear with it!

    As I stand now before the windswept and otherwise interesting council, in judgement once again, your honour!

    "Guilty as charged".... I can see it on their faces!

    Keep yer paddles wet, and powder dry....

    MB

    `..`. ><(((( ((>
    `..`..`. ><((((>

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