Friday, 16 April 2021

Getting going

 So the "Hard to get part" was indeed got and fitted by lunchtime.  A bonus is that the boiler is now running more quietly than ever before.  

Its situated at the back of the boat not too far from my head when I'm in bed.  Some freezing mornings David will everso kindly put the heating on for me on his way out on his bike.  This is a bittersweet kindness as it woke me this first occasion when I thought a helicopter had landed nearby.  

His wife is very happy just now.

After a bit of faffing we did actually leave the marina, we decided to go northwards for no particular reason, going through two locks to come to a halt north of Weston.  

It was lovely to be out away from everything Covid especially, with hardly any boats around.  The weather is set fair for the next few days and we hope to see a bit of the surrounding countryside.  

Approaching Weston Lock

Gorgeous sight at the end of the day

Supper was M&S lamb tagine.  David said it needed more apricots and nuts but when I have made it at home I triple the quantities of both.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

A sunny day spent waiting

 So we had a free day with which to wait for the "Hard to order" part for the Eberspacher boiler.  

Ed had warned us that if this part didn't work we would need to have a new control panel.  Ed seemed shocked at the price, David was miffed at the price but I thought it much much cheaper than a new handbag.

We went awalking, although yes I am sick of walking.  Reader if you are from a Covid free country and I know several people who are then you might not understand that in the UK, we have been limited to walking close to home for the last five months.  So that's 65 million walkers stodging through parks and over hills that left the footpath near our farm looking like The Somme in WW1, I got stuck wearing wellies one time.  But now farmers are returning to a normal frame of mind (That is David moaning about the dry conditions), so we trotted off to walk through the trees, heading south, from the lock at Great Haywood on the opposite side to the tow path.

There were Wrens, Long Tailed Tits, tree rats (grey squirrels) and the first opening heads of Bluebells.  I had forgotten my camera so borrowed David's phone.  Now this trauma of David going from an iPhone to a Google phone could be a whole blog posting alone but I shall spare you the trauma, but now I have spent over 45 minutes at this computer with and without wires trying to get the photos from his phone to mine.  If anyone can advise please do come and help me but I can't try any longer without a nervous episode.  
Just use your imaginations to picture the sun coming through he trees, the birds, no wind at all, green shoots sprouting through, seeing Shrugborough somewhat and one or two narrowboats passing by.

We ambled back to Essex Bridge the much photographed pack horse bridge that is well over 400 years old, sat in the sun on a fallen tree watching the small crowd crossing it, but not for long, its romantic but frankly pretty uncomfortable.

We went to the Canalside Farm Shop Cafe and had coffees, watching the one narrowboat pass by.  

Back to WaL, I did a bit of tidying and duster wafting and finished my book.  
A cracker of a read,  HERE  so I also had the joy of choosing the next book.

Supper was calamari and asparagus.  We talked about the morality of buying imported veg in this case from Peru as opposed to waiting a few more weeks for English, but I have to say Reader it was delicious.

The pretty sky tonight.

The wooded path so pretty

Shrugborough which will soon be invisible from here.

Essex Bridge so romantical uncomfortable.

Oh my I cannot believe these photos have now arrived!!!

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A return to What-a-Lark

 So Reader here we are.  It's been a while and the earth has shifted on its axis but I am hoping that you Reader have made it through this ongoing pandemic in good health.

David and I had the luxury of living very close to the South Coast and the farm where we still live has quiet a lot of space around it, we came to appreciate just how very fortunate we were to have outside space.  My mother has fared well and we as a family were able to celebrate her 90th in late August in our garden with blankets and with all her descendants just before it all shut down again.

David and I, his brother and wife all had the dreaded Covid last November completely out of the blue, I tested positive despite not having any symptoms, they came later, but happily it was very mild and we were completely better in two weeks or so.

At the end of last season, we had high hopes of returning to WaL but no.  The lovely folk at Great Haywood Marina overwintered the boat for us.  Of course our small electric winter heaters were at home and in the end the best way was to buy new ones delivered to the marina.

Entering WaL the other day was a bit like last July after one Lockdown or another, we got to WaL and had to pull to one side the cobwebs to get in...

Jeepers hasn't it been cold?  Luckily I had a new coat built for the arctic and I don't think I ever expected to have to wear it as much on walks and by the way I am heartily sick of walks.  David and I developed a list of topics of conversations that we cannot talk about;

1) Covid.

2) Brexit.

3) Government.

But we have thoroughly enjoyed the US Election and their subsequent troubles, indeed I have sat up many a night watching CNN until 2am following the coverage and admiring CNN's Caitlin Collins coats.

So back to UK and Great Haywood and WaL, we drove up the other day and I was slightly dismayed that the temperature dropped to 2C as we drove through quite thick snow and cars overtook covered in snow... But arriving in Staffordshire and GH the temperature was a balmy 10C and clear blue skies.

I just hope the boat starts said David, well it did on the second attempt, however the heating failed which includes the hot water.  This trip had been primarily to get our Lockgate Stove serviced and working properly and the nice man Ed from Four Counties Marine got it working in the afternoon, ( I would have lasted only one night otherwise) so now we are waiting for a hard to get part for the boiler and fingers crossed that will work.  

More on that later.

Supper was a smorgasbord of cheeses, olives, olive bread salmon pate, the bonus was a bottle of my favourite wine    (We had expected to have cracked in the locker in the cratch over winter, it was already nicely chilled).  


Friday, 2 October 2020

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

 We spent the next couple of days working on the boat trying to get troublesome non shiny sections on the side to become shiny, these were under the portholes and under the hinges on the side hatches... Something to do with not having done the job last summer and then lockdown and finally having red paint...  

Oh don't think we have not been warned of the perils of red paint, well just the thousand times but I do so love it.

Its a bit of a story of how WaL became red, we had planned to have her grey, cream and black trimmed,  the back two panels red with the name on.  We were on one of our periodic trips to Fernwood when Mr Fernwood (Ken) took me aside and under curtains of plastic sheeting and showed me the progress.  David at this point was off with Julia (Mrs Fernwood).  
Ken said, well we done this, looking at the two panels but what about if we run the red all the way along and with great enthusiasm and expansive arm movements.  That was that, I said yes carry on and I just love her colours.  

It was AFTER she was painted that the sound of deafening sucking in on teeth, shaking of heads and tut-tutting could be heard.  
But I've never regretted the choice but am looking forward to that distant day when she is repainted and we have Two Pack which all tell me needs no more polishing.
I wonder if that is true.

Fairly shiny don't you think?  

So in between all this we went a walking on a gorgeous day.  Up onto a bridge and away over the River Trent onto a series of paths and fields, sadly a few of these fields were occupied by cows; dry cows, calves and god help me large curious bullocks.  Now I know its odd but as a dairy farmers wife of a few years standing now but I do not like cows, of any size.

So the following pictures are from a couple of walks over the next few days making the most of the last of the summer sun.  Marilyn these are for you, the colours are late turning this year.

Elderberry turning pink.

Holly, no berries

Don't know but a late entry.

Hawthorn turning red.

River Trent, looks small but OMG it did some flooding last November.

Little darlings who played "What's the Time Mr Wolf" with me all along the field.

I saw this horseshoe on a new bit of fencing, I like to think of it having come off a horse while it was pulling the plough.

We thought this was on a wild rose, but I have no idea what it is.

Hawthorne turning yellow.

Hawthorn berries a delicious red.

Campion, again a late entry.

David had the map with him, but even so finding the footpaths was a hard job in places with a farmer who had horses in a field had three or four electric fences barring the path.  Down our way he would have been arrested and got life in prison but up here its all a bit lax.  
See below: 

Not terribly well maintained.

Now we came upon a muddy marshy wet spot, pond is too prettier term but these birds were there.  I'm not sure at that distance what they are but if you Reader think you know then do please share.  Looking at the RSPB identify a Bird page HERE my best guess is a Plover or Sandpiper.

We also saw an Egret and a Snipe, I was just getting my camera to get a shot of both but they were quicker than me sad to say.

Gorgeous wild violas, "Dreadful bloody weed" said David, "It's a bugger to get rid of".  I might need a bit longer to work on him Reader.

Then these two arrived.  The Lewis's, see his overalls under his arm....?

They came for the afternoon.  We had another of those M&S's Meal Deals too, the lasagne one again, delicious it was too.  Amanda brought an apple cake and we had tiramisu, the Weight Watchers version (not).

No it's a hot air balloon.

Time to leave finally, tomorrow was going to be wet.  As the weather had been so very good in Staffordshire, we had extended our stay.  David had sacrificed not one but TWO golf matches and I was happy.  

The day we departed I was supposed to pack enroute but it was so sunny and warm I sat on deck enjoying it.

Our mooring for the last few days.

Looking though towards the River again.  Just lovely.

Now talking of Fernwood, this chap called out as we slipped by "Is that a Tyler hull?"  
Well now this was a first for us actually to have the hull correctly identified... Yes we called back 
"I thought so, I helped make it, I can spot them, he continued, 
"See those downward drains?  They don't look much but they take ages and are difficult" 

Sadly he is currently furloughed but fingers crossed that the industry gets back on its feet.

Turning into Great Haywood marina.  I hope it's not the last time this year, if we can and there is a settled spell of dry weather we'll pop back.  Covid19 permitting that is.

Bye for now.


Thursday, 1 October 2020

A pump out, phew.

 The next bright and sunny morning was just as windy, we hurried along to Aston Marina with the dangerously full poo tank and our legs crossed.... Small queue at Aston Lock, it empties quickly and fills slowly due in part to the leaks.

So as we got to the marina entrance, David saw that there isn't any rubber lining the concrete, can I just remind you Reader that we had painted the gunwales, well to get in, with a fierce cross wind and no rubber protectors, David whacked on the gas and we rocketed in with professional use of the bow thrusters.    He also managed to avoid the wooden jetty which is at an angle luckily without any moored boats on it.  
David was confident that as the wind was behind us as we were lining up to the landing that he could do it.  Now this landing had tyres along it but its crazily short.  I jumped off with the centre line as David kept the bow thrusters going while I fumbled with the TINY rings, I wrapped it through twice but then there is nothing to secure the rope to of a 70' narrow boat with the wind trying to take her back end off again.
Small panic.  
It reminded me of the bad day last year, when we were on the wide beam mooring up at Sonning, with the wind against the boat, David helming and little me given the task of holding her while D hammered in the stake.... On that occasion two passing Boaters helped me as did an unexpected and sudden change in the wind direction...

I could not secure the front rope as WaL had overshot the TINY jetty.  Two huge bollards at the back so David tied her there and came to help me.  He tied the excess rope to a section of railings.
The very nice lady came down to us bringing a token for the pumpout, how sweet of her.  David asked her who had designed such a crazy pumpout
"Who's to blame you mean?" she replied laughing, Not me!

Well not only is it a SELF pumpout but its also the most expensive to at £20, no blue and DIY, the most expensive that we have previously had was £18 we think, with £3 for water which he then fished out the canal with a watering can (how we laughed) but this was not DIY.
Unless you know better Reader?

Well after that we jollied along the canal to a pretty spot, me in a winters hat, just past a bridge to help our visitors tomorrow.

We thought that after doing another coat of oiling on the doors and himself having another bash at polishing we'd go to the pub for an aperitif. 
We set off via the bridge just behind us only to be informed by a friendly resident that this path was closed by the council due to a landslip into the stream with it follows.  
We'd have to move the boat for the visitors later.

The view over the river valley as we walked to the pub at Burston.

The pub was rated somewhere David read.  HERE  and I am pleased to report that not only the menu looked good but the staff masked and efficient, a very comfortable pub and that when we do not have a fridge full of M&S treats we will return to.

Supper was Tasty Treats, followed by chocolate and cherry mousse.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Ewoks and roulette.

The next day, we needed water and David needed to go to M&S again.  We had more Fine Company due.

These days had continued in a pattern of misty starts and then unbelievable gorgeous days, made even better Reader with weather reports from home saying it was cold and damp too, nothing better than when you are on holiday to hear that it's horrid weather at home.

These little darlings were in the field opposite, they were skipping about like teddy bears do. 

Belted Galloways, what's not to love?  They remind me of Ewoks from Star Wars...

We set off heading north, right where we were it had been protected from any wind, but as we rounded the bend some north icy blasts caught us, me back inside to put on more layers.

This had been our mooring for several days.

You can't see I know but he has his thickest warmest fleece on, waterproof over trousers too, but is still wearing shorts.

This is the next little task, if you can't quite make it out its just below the sliding hatch runners.  George has told me exactly what to do.

Interior woodwork that has been completely ignored since July 2012 ummmmmmm

The idea was to pop into Aston Marina along the canal, have a much needed pump out and beg for water if indeed there is a reachable water point.  

The wind picked up steadily over the next couple of hours as we approached and as we got there it was a brute of a howling gale.  David turned in and got directions from a boater who was out securing items on his roof, he pointed to the pump out, now this marina is in two halves, almost shaped as the digit 8, and where the two sections meet is the pumpout station.  Well as we hovered looking for it, another boat called across to us to say that they were in the queue for the pump out too, the wind was so bad that she had had to go onto a mooring while she waited for a boat actually on the station to vacate.... There were a few utterances form my Captain as to where the       Beep Beep were we supposed to wait?  This was all while the wind blew WaL all over the marina getting precariously closer to other moored boats.
A few more utterances and we left, David decided that we'd come back tomorrow.  
He carefully navigated us out and back onto the cut just short of Aston Lock and apart from us having a dangerously full poo tank, I was relieved to get out.  No photos I'm afraid.

On up the lock and we approached Stone.  Wonderful, a mooring just our size in the run up to M&S.  
Off we went in David's new favourite shop.  He had previously been given two vouchers to spend sizable amounts but then you'll get 10% off.  Now this man likes a bargain so he filled the trolley with all sorts of goodies that I would never usually buy....

Well he got his 10% discount and we staggered back to the boat and I went off to post a letter only returning when I was sure that he'd had enough time to put all the shopping away.

We moved along onto the water point and started to fill.  For such a busy spot I truly thought it was a double tap but no and pretty poor water pressure taking ages.  
Two hire boats turned up, one was 68', accommodating eight but with only a couple onboard, I took a rope to squeeeeeeeze them in he said that the hire company had told him to fill up every day!!!!!  
Yonks ago when we had hired with the three children on a similar sized boat I'm not sure that we filled up again in the whole fortnight, this poor couple had had to wait almost an hour the previous day for water.
I advised a day off water duties tomorrow.

Well David reversed WaL back to the winding hole (Turny round place) David stuck her nose into the bushes and I got off with the stern rope to aid a quicker turn.  Woman power working very well here.

We headed out of Stone, every space was taken now but I can't stand being under trees so we ended up all alone, on a straight section of armco, about half a mile from Aston Lock again.  We would have gone back to the Marina this evening but it would  have been closed.
Tomorrow morning then for a re-run of Marina Roulette in another gale that was forecast.
Marvellous, can't wait.

Supper was cauliflower cheese.  Sarah from NB Hodmad'dod recipe, with olives, mushrooms and roasted baby tomatoes, I cooked while David did the first coat of polish on the other side.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Misty start but then its the last days of summer.

The next day started gloomy, misty and grey whereas David had promised me sunshine.  The dreaded polishing started again, we did the second coat and this time were really pleased with the results that has given WaL a much greater depth of colour that had been so lacking.  
Happy Boaters we were.  

Gloomy start, but I like the misty hills in the background.

I carried on sanding, my instructions were to not worry about the black bits (I was very worried about the black bits) but just take the old varnish off.... So I did but Reader once you start, correction; once I started I wasn't really sure what was varnish and what was wood). 
At the finish I reckon I've taken off 0.5cms of wood.  Then to use something called Wood Bleach, its supposed to make the black bit wood colour again.
I started then applying the new oily stuff.  The jury is out at the moment as to results.... 
I wonder how much new doors cost?

The afternoon was spent mostly sitting and not speaking to each other.   Not a row you understand but I've just had Robert Galbraith's new book delivered from Waterstones not Amazon.  I'm trying to be good and buy from a company that pays it's tax.  My golly its a whopper 900plus pages, I can't read it in bed incase of dropping it and breaking a bone, David refuses to hold it for me too.

A few days in and I'm on page 390, its totally gripping.

Supper was egg and grated cheese salad with lots of those tasty little salady dishes M&S do.