Category Archives: Thomas Cookie co
I can now continue with my blogs. This is long overdue but this is the May update.
Monday 1st May we checked into America. It took all morning. The biggest problem was not having an American phone and the satellite phone wouldn’t call the number the coastguard gave me. It’s necessary to have a check in number, which you get calling the phone number, before the customs will even speak to you. For yachties following us, the custom’s have an internal phone you can use when you get there. We spent several hours establishing that! We also assumed they would want to inspect Camomile and tried to obtain a marina berth for a few hours but that was unnecessary because they decided they didn’t want to inspect so we stayed at anchor.
The next day was my birthday and I decided I wanted to go a real American mall, Bill’s idea of purgatory but off we went. While there we got a new phone for me on an American contract so I can facebook and message as much as I want. The number is 561 301 6266. I had a wonderful time browsing around the shops.
We had lunch out, which was delicious, but the best was the strawberry shortcake for dessert. The first of the ‘Everything is big in America’ pictures.
The next day on the 3rd we headed north leaving at 6.30am going back out through the Lake Worth inlet at
The wind was from the east and gave us a good push with the sails hoisted. We entered back into the ICW (inter coastal waterway) at
and then into Harbourtown marina at Fort Pierce.
The entrance waypoint is
The space is the marina was very tight. As you can see Camomile is way over the edge of the berth but the marina weren’t concerned. It will be fun getting out but we’ll work that out later. This would be Camomile’s home for the next month. The cost was $623 for the month working out to a little over 55c per foot per day. We were later to realise what a bargain this was. In the US you pay by the foot for a day or a month. The monthly rates are a lot cheaper than the daily rates.
As many of you know the purpose of the beginning of our stay was to fly back to the UK but the first job was to clean Camomile inside and out, which took most of the next day. I had spent several hours cleaning Camomile’s decks then it started to rain!! Should I have bothered. The couple on the motorboat next to us were very friendly along with most of the other boat owners. Word got round there were a couple of Brits in town and everyone was ‘Just stopping by to say Hello and welcome’.
Spent the rest of the week sorting out the boat, washing and packing.
Monday 8th we picked up our hire car. A one way car hire worked out the cheapest way to get to Orlando airport which was only a 4 hour drive away but America doesn’t really do public transport. When we arrived at the office in town and had completed the paperwork we were shown to our car. I pointed out that I thought they had given us the wrong car. I had booked a small compact car. ‘No’ he said ‘this is a small compact car’!
Tuesday 9th we drove to Orlando airport. I was really excited. We were flying to Miami and then to Heathrow. Orlando airport is huge and full of shops selling Micky Mouse hats. There was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the building.
Our flight was delayed twice and was transferred to Philadelphia where we had to take a later flight to Heathrow. All good in the end.
It was wonderful to see Thomas at the airport. All the planning for this event and finally we were in the UK.
Had a busy first week. On the Friday Bill went off on the stag weekend to Barcelona to the F1, with James, Will the best man and some others. Thomas had a great time. I spent 3 days with my younger sister shopping for my wedding outfit then 3 days with my middle sister enjoying chatting with her and my niece Kirsty and my great nephew Logan, who is adorable now. It’s a year since I’ve seen him and he isn’t a baby any more. Bill and James were back from the stag and working on James’s van.
Thank you to my sisters for having us.
We then returned to Kent to stay with Sonal’s mum Meena. Thank you for having us Meena.
During our second week James was back at work so Bill helped Thomas put some finishing touches to their house, which ended up taking quite a time. I had a day in the cookie kitchen making cookies. I didn’t eat many……
A week before the wedding on the 20th we were invited to a family party of Bill’s relatives at cousin Sally and Rob’s. It was wonderful to see everyone. Bill’s sister Kate was there who had flown in for the wedding and Bill and she had a lovely catch up. It was also the first time we’d seen our nephew Will in almost 5 year, he had grown very tall.
There were 3 cakes for 3 celebrations Mike and Angie’s 25th wedding anniversary, Bronwyn’s 80th birthday and cousin Wendie’s 60th birthday. We had a wonderful day.
Our third and last week was spent shopping for boat bits, of course, clothes to take back, more visiting, hair dressers, nail painting, more last minute bits for the wedding that it just flew by. Finally on 27th the big day arrived. A group of us had stayed at the Chilston Park hotel which served the most amazing breakfast. James and Thomas were there and we had had one last family evening together – when everything was finally completed.
On the morning of the wedding Thomas’s friend arrived in his Ferrari to take Thomas to the venue. My sister and I had a pose in front of it.
Guests were arriving at the venue when Thomas’s party arrived. Everyone looked beautiful in their wedding outfits. It was a glorious day, they were so lucky with the weather.
Finally the bride arrived and looked absolutely stunning. The wedding was outside on the steps that made a stunning setting. Sonals’s dress was exquisite. She had done a wonderful job of blending Indian style accessories with the traditional English wedding theme.
Their little dog Slinky was a ring bearer. They were attached to his collar. Will led him up the steps to Thomas so he could receive the rings.
Thomas had asked Bill to do a reading but instead Bill wrote a poem and read it to them at the end of the service. Here it is
And so I am called – to give sage advice
It’s a special occasion – so I’ll try hard to be nice
All things considered – I really feel I oughter
Because today – I gain a beautiful daughter
It is a brave step – to be husband and wife
One that’s at least – for the rest of your life
So be a friend and an ally – as well as a lover
Be tough be gentle – care for each other
Be quick to unsay – the wrong things you said
You can’t always know – what’s going on in their head
Compassion and compromise – tolerance too
Strive always to see – another point of view
Share fair the burden – of everyday chores
You both work so hard – but make time that is yours
Show respect and interest – for each other’s dreams
Be fast to forgive – however tricky it seems
Put up with the in laws – when they get you upset
They love you and care – so sometimes will fret
Are they smarter than you? very probably not
do they know useful stuff – well they’ve been round the block
All these good things – in plentiful measure
Will build you a life – you’ll both love and treasure
Did I hear you say – is that right are you sure?
It can’t be that simple – there must be some more
After near 40 years – of matrimonial bliss
I’m pleased to say – we’re still working on this
A talented woman – a beautiful bride
How lucky is Tom – to have you at his side
And how lucky am I – that it now falls to me
To welcome you Sonal – to my family
We all moved into the grounds for the photos. Everyone has hundreds but this one is one of my favourites.
It was a fabulous day and one of the nicest things was the wonderful mix of cultures.
So now I’m no longer Mrs Redgrove – I’m Mrs Redgrove senior.
The following day Thomas and Sonal had invited any one who had stayed in the area over night to join them for a drink at a lovely village pub near where they live. It also gave us a chance to say our goodbyes to everyone as our time in the UK was coming to an end again.
We spent our last two days in the country with our old neighbours in Teston. Relaxing and going for walks in our old neighbourhood. James was able to join us for a day. Thank you Gill and Nigel for having us.
Also Bill had won an award at the Westerly AGM earlier in the year and we were able to unpack it and photograph it before leaving it with my sister.
Tuesday 30th May it was back to the airport where our plane was waiting for us. Sorry to all the many people we didn’t get a chance to see this visit but we plan to return April next year for 6 months so we’ll see everyone then. Thank you to everyone we were able to see for making our visit very special and to Thomas and Sonal for allowing us to share your special day.
and oh my goodness didn’t those three weeks go quickly but we managed to do quite a lot. The party was a huge success and to see the look on the boys faces was worth the effort to get back on time. The next day was Father’s day and Bill hasn’t had Father’s day with the boys for years so we celebrated with a wonderful breakfast cooked by Thomas. I even took my coat off for a few hours!
We hired a car Monday morning and drove to the other side of Maidstone to see Thomas’s new unit, the new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co. Bill and I had very proud of what Thomas has achieved in just over a year and with Sonal’s help. It turned out to be a good time to arrive because Thomas was grateful for Bill’s help with sorting out some shelving and other bits. After making some plans the four of us drove into Maidstone for a coffee and a chat. It felt so strange walking around the town together after so long. Sadly James had to leave in the afternoon to fly back to Scotland. Had he known we were coming he would have stayed longer but we planned to go to Scotland the following week.
Tuesday we got onto the motorway to drive to Basingstoke to see my sister. There’s so much traffic here and after travelling everywhere at 6kts it felt strange going so fast. Angela looks after her grandson Logan, my great nephew 3 days a week and it was good to see him again. When I was in the UK last May he was a babe in arms but now he’s walking around very cheekily including in Uncle Bill’s trainers!
We spent 2 days there but after we left I realised I didn’t get a photo of me with him but I love this one of Bill in training to be a Grandpa!
We had a lovely meal out with Angela and Terry on the Tuesday evening and a nice meal in on Wednesday with my niece Kirsty too.
Thursday was a busy day. After laying some flowers on my Mum’s grave we drove to Pitton to see Bill’s Auntie Hilary and Uncle John for a lovely chat and a delicious lunch. After leaving in the afternoon we drove to our sister-in-law Claire and Gordon for a light supper, more chatting and a comfy bed.
Friday we paid a quick visit to our lock-up to leave a few bits there (there really isn’t any more room). I always feel sad when I see our ‘treasures’ stacked floor to ceiling – I wonder when they will all come out one day into a home? We continued onto Port Solent and the marine superstore to start buying the many items needed to take back. Another grave in the afternoon, Dad is buried in Littlehampton and doesn’t get visited very often so it needed a bit of TLC.
Finally we completed the loop and ended back in Maidstone in Thomas’s unit and I helped make some cookies. I was paid in cookies too, yum yum.
Saturday saw us visiting the chandleries of Gillingham and Chatham for more bits as well as some clothes shopping.
Sunday was market day but while Bill went to help Thomas on the stall I went with Sonal to walk my ‘grand-fur-baby’ Slinky with the other dogs of the ‘Sausage dog club’ at Cobtree park north of the town. It brought back fond memories because I used to walk Nike there. Slinky is only 4 months old so can’t walk far but he enjoyed meeting his buddies. It was wonderful to spend time with Sonal and enjoyed our walk together.
Middle of summer and we all had coats on again.
This is Slinky’s brother and is the first time he’s seen him since leaving the litter, I wonder if he remembered him.
After our walk Sonal and I drove to West Malling to see Thomas on his market stall. Also my other sister Amanda, my brother-in-law Alan and nephew and niece Tristan and Jasmine came to see us. After the stall was packed up we drove to the Kings Arms in Meopham and all enjoyed a delicious Sunday lunch together. In the afternoon back at Thomas and Sonal’s house Jasmine was asked to be one of Sonal’s bridesmaids so the talk turned to weddings.
Monday 27th Bill and Thomas headed off to Ikea to get some shelving and other bits for the unit and I did something so normal for everyone but I was thrilled – I walked to Sainsburys! I took this selfie in the entrance and the other shoppers probably thought I was a bit daft but there you go. I had a great time buying all the stuff I can’t normally buy like nice decaff filter coffee, nescafe cappuccino sachets, t bags, stirfry sauces, best jam, oxo cubes, birthday number candles, as well as some strawberries and raspberries to just eat.
Tuesday was spent packing as much as possible in just 2 cabin bags for the Easyjet flight to Scotland. To take hold luggage on easyjet was £32 a piece each way! Thomas drove us to Gatwick for the flight to Inverness. Goodness it was cold when we landed. Another layer went on, Bill walked around with 4 layers including his jacket and I’ve had 3 with my coat. James was excited to have us in Scotland. We hadn’t been there for 2 1/2 years.
Wednesday morning we all went for a beautiful walk. It may be cold but at least it’s sunny. We walked to Gordon’s castle and had coffee in the tea rooms in the walled garden. It was a lovely start to our stay. www.gordoncastlescotland.com
The area around the castle is stunning and it’s only a mile or so from James’s house.
In the afternoon we went into Elgin to get some shopping so I could make some of James’s favourite dinners. That evening I started with a big lasagne and salad. James made the garlic bread.
Thursday was big excitement because James was offered a job in Saudi Arabia. A great opportunity, we are very proud of him. So we went out for another walk to celebrate!
I love the wildflowers in Scotland, these foxgloves were every where, so rare in England.
We crossed a burn (a tributary of the river Spey) by the ford which also had a salmon staircase leading up the river. Unfortunately it isn’t salmon season so there wasn’t any to catch.
Our destination was the cricket field so James and Bill could fly James’s drone, otherwise known as his pet!
Bill was given very strict instructions on how to fly it after James had launched it but he wasn’t allowed to land it. Now Bill wants one.
We continued our walk towards the Baxters coffee shop crossing the river Spey. This little cottage was once the tollgate for the old bridge, which is now a footpath and the new bridge lies alongside it and Baxters is the other side. Perfect.
James wanted Bill to help him put some windows in his van so that afternoon was spent working out what was needed and shopping for tools. I had a nice walk around Elgin instead. Made Chicken and chickpea curry for dinner
On Friday Bill and James were waiting for some parts to be delivered so James drove us all a bit further out to see more of the surrounding countryside. We were lucky with the weather. It was normally sunny in the mornings for our walk or drive then clouded over later with the odd shower. What we really enjoyed was the light evenings. It didn’t get dark until 10.30 or even 11.00pm in Scotland.
and James took his drone.
In the afternoon the rubber seal arrived they had been waiting for and the installation of the van windows began. Bill started with the new reciprocating saw they had bought. I could hear the noise from inside the house as Bill made a huge hole in the side of the van. James did the fileing and clipped on the rubber seal.
With Bill giving him the confidence he cut the other side himself. It was quite brave of both of them cutting 2 big holes in the side of the van. Once the rubber edging was clipped in place on both sides it was left for the day.
I had my hair cut and Hailey arrived in the evening.
In the morning Hailey and I went to the garden centre for coffee while Bill and James put the windows in. It was a two man job with one on the inside and one on the outside. They looked really good when they were finished but I forgot to take a final photo.
In the afternoon we all went for a drive and saw these seals playing on the beach.
We continued onto Findochty to see the little harbour there. When we get back to the UK hopefully we’ll sail up to Scotland so it was good to look around first. The sea was really calm on that day. I wonder how often it’s like that. It was beautiful scenery.
Bill looking across the inside of the harbour.
Further along the road we stopped at Cullen which had another small harbour but we wouldn’t have been able to get Camomile in there. The town was overlooked by this beautiful old railway viaduct.
All the little towns were very pretty.
The last place we stopped was Bow Fiddle rock. An amazing piece of sedimentary rock that had had a hole worn through it over millions of years. A very beautiful rock. We climbed down to get a closer look. It was covered in seabirds.
On the sunday we enjoyed another drive across to Lossiemouth that had a small marina that would be good for us but I left my camera behind. For Sunday lunch we went to the Gordon Arms hotel for their delicious carvery.
Monday 4th July we packed our bags and left James’s house but the four of us continued together and drove for about 3 hours south to Broughty ferry near Dundee where Hailey lives. Hailey’s parents own a beautifully restored old mill. We were made very welcome and enjoyed a lovely dinner with all the family. It felt warmer now we were further south.
On Tuesday we went to explore the beautiful Broughty ferry castle built on the northern shore of the River Tay. This 15th century coastal fort has faced many battles and sieges, and was rebuilt in the 19th century as part of the River Tay’s coastal defence system.
It now houses a fascinating museum featuring displays on the life and times of Broughty Ferry, its people, the environment and the wildlife that lives close by.
It gave us wonderful views up and down the river Tay.
The wonderful old gates.
In the afternoon we continued further south to Edinburgh passing the new bridge being built over the Forth river.
Wednesday 6th was Bill’s birthday. We had stayed the night in an AirB&B (we stayed in someone’s apartment) and James and Hailey had cooked Bill a wonderful steak dinner. In the morning we all had eggy bread and bacon before exploring the city. Edinburgh is a beautiful city. In the centre all the old buildings have been wonderfully preserved.
This amazing structure has been erected up over the outer walls of Edinburgh castle for the military tattoo that would be taking place the following week. Once the festivities are over the whole thing is taken back down again.
We’ve been into the castle before so this time we went into St Giles cathedral. There’s so much history in Edinburgh, it’s a wonderful place.
We walked down the hill into the shopping area to look around the shops. James decided Bill needed to try a virtual reality headset. To demonstrate it’s use it was showing some off piste skiing and a roller coaster.
All too soon it was time to drive to Edinburgh airport and say goodbye to James and Hailey. We had enjoyed our holiday within our holiday.
We arrived at Gatwick and Thomas picked us up. Most of Bill’s birthday was gone but the next day Thomas cooked him a delicious egg and bacon birthday breakfast. I spent the day packing our bags which wasn’t easy with all the bits we had bought for the boat and ourselves but eventually it all fitted. Bill spent one last day with Thomas in the unit. Thomas cooked our final meal which was a delicious roast pork dinner with crackling that melted in your mouth and scrummy roast potatoes. Sonal’s mum Meena joined us and we gave her a beautiful orchid for letting us stay with her (she lives 6 doors away from Thomas).
On Friday morning with a heavy heart it was time to say goodbye to Sonal, Meena and little Slinky. Thomas drove us to Heathrow after cooking us another wonderful breakfast.
We had so enjoyed the quality time we had spent with both the boys and Sonal and Hailey.
Thank you to everyone who we stayed with and apologies for those we didn’t get to see this time.
As we came into land at Mahe in the Seychelles I could see the islands from the window.
Our journey home continues.
Sunday 5th April was Easter Sunday. Last year I didn’t even get the sniff of an Easter egg; this year I bought some Easter bunnies to take back with me. Sadly one was smashed to bits and there was chocolate everywhere, the other one had melted and collapsed. Don’t worry fortunately both were still edible! So it was Easter bunnies for breakfast in bed before the unpacking started. Most of my washing was done thanks to my sister but Bill hadn’t done any while I was away. Fortunately (or unfortunately if you got too close to him!) he hadn’t changed much either so there were only a couple of loads to do!
I spent the next couple of days feeling generally under the weather. I’d arrived back with a really bad cold that I’d caught from Angela’s hairdresser, I always suffer from jet lag for several days and I felt homesick. I’d had a lovely time in the UK and although it was good to get back to Bill I missed everyone.
It didn’t help that the boat was covered in dust and the cushions were still over in Norsa. Poor Bill had spent half a day before I got back cleaning and changed the bed but it was only ‘man cleaning’ and the boat needed a good spring clean. This is Bill enjoying his ‘Thomas cookie co’ cookie; one of 5 that managed to get home in one piece. You can see the general state of the boat behind him.
Bill had one more coat of the topcoat with the non skid granules to do so continued with that. I can’t believe the difference in the boat, it’s incredible what he’s achieved. His work has received lots of compliments in the boat yard, from professionals as well as fellow yachties.
The deck is still covered in blue masking tape, which needs to be removed once the painting has finished. Bill thought that would be a good job for me, cheers, there go my nice long nails! I don’t mind really it’s nice to be able to help, there isn’t a lot else I can do really.
Bill took this photo from next doors boat with me sitting in the cockpit ‘relaxing’.
In between painting Bill got on with the inside jobs. One of the first things to fit was the new steering flange bearing so the floorboards could go back down and I could re-stow all the bags. This is the gearbox, which Bill had out to service.
It was attached to the steering flange bearing that had seized and the bearings were like red dust.
Bill had to cut it in half to remove it from the shaft, which fortunately was still in good condition. The new one was put back in place. Luckily Bill had found this problem otherwise it would have caused difficulties further down the line. The floorboards and the bed were put back.
I spent the next couple of days washing (some of my new clothes had chocolate on them), ironing and repacking the bags although there wasn’t so much to repack because I left a lot of my winter stuff behind to make room for the boat bits and my new clothes. I took the ferry to Langkawi to do a bit of shopping in the local shops but I was still feeling fairly sorry for my self.
By Thursday I felt much better and set about spring-cleaning the boat. I took clothes out of cupboards, books off of shelves, ironed the curtains and re-hung them, cleaned all the galley and generally cleaned away all the dust that had inevitably spread itself around while Bill had been working on below decks projects. The newly varnished floorboards looked much better once they were clean. All that remained was to get Norsa’s keys and go and fetch the saloon cushions.
A vast improvement.
Before I returned Bill had signed up for another 2 weeks on the hard so he could finish his woodwork in the shade of the boat. These are the new grab handles. They won’t be put on yet because Bill is concentrating on completing the ‘out of the water’ jobs which includes anything that can be achieved by using the scaffold tower rather than working on his knees.
Also on the Thursday Bill started replacing the toe rails. You may remember he had removed them by cutting off the top of the screw heads, easing off the old wood and leaving the stud of the bolts in place. Now the painting was finished the toerails were next.
First a special home made cutter was used to create a shallow counterbore around the exposed stud. This then took a square nut, then a lock nut and provided a recess to pot them with epoxy resin once they were seized hard to the stud to discourage it from turning when the toerail was loaded.
The toerail is tried for size. Note the curve that the wood has got to bend to. A fresh layer of blue masking tape is applied which Bill scores around the toerail with a knife to leave the centre of the masking tape free.
The toerail is also masked up.
The black Sikaflex is applied and the toerail is eased into place.
A washer and a third and final nut is loaded into the counter bore in the top of the toe rail and is tightened down (without the stud spinning) to squeeze the mastic out from under the rail. Finally Bill plugs the holes with his home made plugs and epoxy resin.
When it’s dry the masking tape is removed leaving a nice clean finish to the job.
It took two days to attach the new toe rails to both sides. On the Friday evening after he’d finished the heavens opened and we had a massive downpour. It rains in paradise too.
Week 8 was mostly spent undercoating the topsides and varnishing floorboards.
Bill said there were five components to painting the topsides. Port side deck, starboard side deck, top of the coach roof, sides of coach roof and the aft deck. He would get up early to paint the port side deck then the starboard side from the scaffold tower before it got too hot. The next day he could paint the top of the coach roof and the sides of the coach roof while on his knees and finish off with the aft deck. Another day to rub it all down and repeat the process again. This didn’t take up all his time so as I was away he took up the floorboards from down below, took them under the boat to rub down then laid them out in the cockpit to revarnish.
This shows the floorboards drying in the sun with a masked up aft deck in the background.
This is my galley floor where the edges had recently come loose so Bill’s stuck them back down again with Sikaflex. The steps were out and they were rubbed down and varnished too.
Another job Bill wanted to do was repair the joint at the forward bulkhead where it meets the hull. It had been repaired shortly after the boat was built, before we owned her, but the repair had failed so Bill reglassed the joint between the saloon and the heads (toilet).
Thursday 26th Bill went into town to pick up the gloss paint that had finally come in so that he could start the topcoats next week.
I was half way through my trip to the UK. The good news was that Bills new passport had arrived at my sisters, followed by his old one the next day so that was that sorted. The bad news was that the immersion heater on the boat had failed and was added to my shopping list.
This is West Malling a beautiful village in Kent just over the hill from our old house. It was the setting for the farmers market that week where Thomas had set up his cookie stall.
I had driven to Kent on the Saturday afternoon just because I could! I wanted to go to church on the Sunday morning. The Teston church (our old village) only has a service once a month but Father Jim also administers over Wateringbury and East Malling. I had been going togo to Wateringbury but at the last minute I decided to go to East Malling and there was Father Jim. It was wonderful to see him and take communion. I felt very emotional being inside a church again, something I’ve really missed.
While Thomas was selling cookies Sonal and I had a lovely coffee sitting in the spring sunshine before we went for a lovely walk in the park with Honey the Dashund. The English countryside was beginning to wake up and a few leaves were starting to bud on the trees. These swans looked very pretty in the park.
In the afternoon I drove to Havant to spend the night with my sister-in-law Claire and her husband Gordon. I was there on the right day because they were in the process of sorting their DVDs out and I scooped a bag full. Thank you.
The next day I drove into Chichester to have a look around the shops. I got a nice top for the wedding, my wizzy wiz things from Lakeland, but more importantly Bill’s stainless staples that I had spent ages looking for. Good old Messams, you can’t beat the little old-fashioned hardware shops.
After a lovely lunch with Claire I continued onto Southampton for an evening with our WOA friends Liz and Julian. Their Westerly is in Turkey but it was great to catch up with them.
So 3 nights in 3 different beds and it was back to my sister’s in the rain. To be fair the weather had been very good during my stay and this was only the second lot of rain we I’d had.
On the Thursday Angela, her friend Pat and I had a pamper session before the wedding. Our nails looked beautiful after this, not sure how long they will last when I get back to the boat.