Tuesday 5 November 2019

Bloody knots and Poles.

The next morning, at length, we loosened the ropes and set off.  Well David took a while to undo my rope but he managed it after a fashion.  We winded here (Turned around) and started the short-ish run back towards Great Haywood.

Things to consider today, 
a)   That we wanted to meet up with NB Steadfast tomorrow night.
b)  We wanted to stay dry.
c)  We needed to test out the television reception to watch the Rugby World Cup Final on Saturday am.

Our television is a bit of a story, when the boat was launched way way back in 2012, we had the old TV from our lounge put onto WaL.  Its small alright and also old.  In fact every season its a surprise if it works.  One spring it failed and in my head I had already converted the TV cabinet into a drinks cabinet.  Then David Lewis visited and pushed the plug in more firmly so we still have the TV....  The only thing is we actually hardly ever watch it!
Today we wanted a clear signal for the TV or good 4G to watch the match on the laptop.

Here's darling in his Noddy Hat.

Pretty fierce flow here too.

Wonderful colour here.

A pretty uneventful hop, we passed a few more boats going north, mostly hire boats.

We reached the junction at Great Haywood with the Staffs to Worcester canal,  we travelled all along it this spring where we had our solar panels fitted.  Fabulous canal.
We made the turn slowly but nothing was coming.

We pitched up here at the lovely Tixell Wide.  A night here then we planned to return to the junction to meet NB Steadfast.   HERE   We learnt that they had set off but had had a breakdown so our meeting looked in jeopardy.

Nice reflection thing going on here.

The gap David had chosen here was clear of trees for the TV signal.  Not that we watched anything.  We snugged up.

Supper was Lamb Biryani.

The next morning we pootled back to the junction.  Disappointingly the mooring that we thought would have to best reception for the Rugby was still occupied by a boat we had walked past three nights previously despite the 48 Hrs mooring.  We reversed onto a spot closer to the trees.  We walked up to the farm shop and had breakfast, David had poached eggs and I had Staffordshire Oatcakes with mushrooms. 

Leaving Tixell

David untying the bow ropes.

That evening in a monsoon we drove up to Penkridge to meet NB Steadfast's crew.  That is to say Joe, Lesley and Amanda who was staying onboard to help with the locks for their journey from Gailey to Tamworth.  But it was not to be this time the breakdown couldn't be mended so instead of eating at Great Haywood we all went to The Littleton Arms at Penkridge.
Very good it was too.
I drove them back to their boat still in a monsoon but before we arrived back again at Great Haywood it was dry, just a few miles away.

The Rugby Final the next morning was a loss of course, but being British we are used to that.  We tried to cheer ourselves up by eating bacon sandwiches....  A valiant effort and we'll have to look forward to four years time.

We waited until the rain had stopped to move the boat back into the marina.  Vague smears of blue skies seem to appear and as we moved off of course it poured with rain again.

We topped right up to the brim with diesel with David holding an umbrella over the tank and then pulled into our new mooring slot.  
We must remember to take in the boat pole and boat hook said David and lets not forget to empty the water tank either....
We have to leave the boat tomorrow, stopping off in London to babysit for a gorgeous baby.

The last night onboard for us this year.  Not too much to pack this time.  Just as I put my coat on and pick up my handbag David remembers that we haven't emptied the water tank.  This takes considerably longer to empty despite it hardly having much water left in the tank but it was finally done and we drove off.

Half way home.... "Bloody hell I forgot to put the boat pole and hook inside the boat!"   
I fear it's our age. 


Monday 4 November 2019

What do you mean you can't find any tonic water?

So the next morning bright and late after a most pleasant lie-in, the purchasing of some engine stuff from the marina and most vital of all, an emergency dash to the village store for tonic water (I'm not often caught out without gin), then we made a move.  
After much dithering and undecidedness on which direction to go (We have a choice of three directions from here), we went north. 

David was out and undid the tonneau cover which is the waterproof covering to protect the back of WaL from the weather, we put it on when we leave the boat.  He said as he took it off several hundred bluebottle flies were underneath it!   So that's where they had come from and possibly down the ventilation mushrooms.  All morning we swatted them and fed them to the fish.  They didn't put up much of a fight.  I can't imagine what has sustained them all these weeks under there.

So going north we have the choice of The Saracens Head, The Woolpack, The Dog and Doublet and The Holly Bush Pubs.  
David claims the discovery of the latter on one of his dawn recces on his bike but I was of the opinion that it was John of NB Ploddin' Along who showed us it.  
However tonight we had made a date with the afore mentioned John&Louise at the Dog and Doublet pub at Sandon, that is three locks northwards.

First lock for me in ages and ages.  So glad I grabbed this shot of this tree as on the way back many of the leaves had gone.

One of very many.

An orange carpet, beautiful leaves aren't they, but I have a fit if they land on WaL's roof!

In he comes.

So the farming news, these hills were freshly cultivated, not many fields have this good drainage to allow it.

No that's not a river, just a field.

Now tell me HOWEVER did this farm get planning permission to put this barn there on the skyline?  Planning Officers here must be from "Del Monte" they aren't where we come from.

Sandon Lock, I love these echo's of it's former life.

I had good winter kit on, fleecy lined boating trousers, long sleeved thermal top and furry hat but even so, two hours was plenty for me to be out in the cold wind.  

Three locks, almost had the sun at one point but most importantly no rain.  We moored up, I tied the bow rope, well I had three goes at tying the bow rope before I called to him that I had forgotten how to do knots.....  

I resorted to doing a Lisa Special, guaranteed not to come undone, least of all by the man the next morning.  We moored up here on a long stretch of straight armco, we snuggled up me to have a nap but on waking we saw that another NB had moored up directly in front of our nose, now you will remember I have strong views on leaving "Git Gaps" but really?  In the last days of October...?  Well that's folk for you.

The tow path was very wet and very muddy all along.  In places coming along from Great Haywood you could see where the water from the rivers and streams has flowed into the canal submerging the towpath I was grateful for my wellies, in fact I only have wellies and cute navy suede ankle boots with me on the boat here, so that it was the wellies I wore to the pub!

It was lovely to catch up with good friends John and Louise again.  We had seen them in May  HERE  in the spring, stupidly enough I didn't take a photo of them, daft really as if I had done you could see how young we are all getting.....

Look forward to seeing you both again.  

We walked back along the tow path up to WaL, there was an old vintage boat actually in the lock, he had all his lights on and the lock was full and ready to have the top gate opened but no sign of the captain, we walked on up to WaL.   Some ten or fifteen minutes along the boat came past.  I do wonder what compels some people to move at night, in the cold, alone with the increased risk of collisions or falling in,   just ask George and Carol HERE   about that...  

But I do appreciate that many working boats did move at nights, I just wonder why today in the C21st elderly single handed chaps are.  But free will and all that.

So supper was, mussels, fish pie and black forest brownie, and very good it was too.

Let's run away from it all!

Here we are Reader, aboard What-a-Lark again.  It's been a while, 
a very good while since we were here....Four months if you can believe it!  I couldn't and got David to count up again, yes four months.

So in the mean time David has been away with his boyfriends to play golf in Florida.   I don't know if he missed me or anything but he says he won't go to Florida again....  Too hot, too bloody humid and too many ghastly wealthy Americans but apart from that he had a good time.
(Oh he thinks the restaurants were dire too).

The babies continue to thrive and as soon as someone can figure out how to get them to sleep in the day time please let their mothers know.  
David answered an SOS last week, I was in London with the other daughter, he came and walked his grandson around the village for two hours giving this daughter a well earned sleep.  This daughter has a bad knee so can't do long distances.  
Now this is something pretty new to David as he never did this for his own children, too busy down the pub, I kid you of course, too busy working on the farm 700 hours a week.

So we are away from it all, enjoying being alone on the waterways just us.... except its surprisingly busy!  Turns out that the one lock here at Great Haywood is closing Monday for three weeks maintenance and loadsa boats are making a dash for the other side of it. 

We unpacked, joke, I unpacked the one bag each we have brought up.  More food than clothes.... Well, I do hate to be hungry.  

I just rolled up the duvet from our bed at home and brought that, so the usual fight to get the cover on in a small space was avoided.  

Surprisingly there were two big bluebottle flies in the boat, I would have thought tit was far too chilly for them now, I caught one and under the influence of Autumn Watch (my favourite TV programme after Spring Watch) I fed it to the fish.

We spent the first evening in the marina as it was about 3pm when we arrived.  I had had the heads up about flooding in this area.  So instead of boating we wandered down to Shrugborough to have a look at the water features, and most attractive they are too.

So here you can see how far the river has risen and spread.  Normally the river is quite a bit narrower, people can walk and climb the rocks alongside. 

The last gasps of autumn colours.

Nice chap, but the river is about four or fives its usual width here.

So for those of you that are familiar with the front grounds of NT Shrugborough   HERE  you can look  HERE  for some Google images before the rains came.

Personally I think it adds a sense of romanticism but I expect the NT to disagree.

So the river flowed over and washed away the fencing.

Look closely for a narrowboat on the canal out of sight.

Shrugborough Hall, wet version.

He was nicely in focus against the colours behind then he moved his head....

Sun disappearing now.

Out of shot a couple of swans liked it as I do.

At the height of the floods the water rose to cover the two ends of the bridge.

Walking back towards Great Haywood, a beautiful vista.

Quite a flow on this normally gentle river.

Now can someone clever tell me what tree this is?  Very lovely in the late afternoon sunshine....

Supper was soup with olive rolls and cheeses.

Lovely to get into bed tonight except for two more really annoying big flies buzzed about.

Saturday 12 October 2019


So Frequent Flyers to this blog will know that I have been banging on about expected Grandchildren.
We have three daughters and two of them divulged last christmas that we were to become grandparents.  In fact as the weeks proceeded the doctors gave us the news that both babies were due on the exact same day.

David & I had considered putting money on them being born the same day and making a killing but we never quite got around to it.   The due date came and went and five days  afterwards baby Luca arrived weighing in at 8lbs, a son to Felicity and Leon then five days later baby Freya, daughter to Koo and Bob made her entrance into the world weighing in at 8lbs 3oz.

After a bumpy start to their young lives, nothing too worrying except to their maternal Grandma, they are both doing very well.

I see them both a lot and they are kissed relentlessly.  

Its quite nice in the mornings now when I wake, I don't trawl though the newspaper and social media now, I scroll though my photos and gaze at them both.

I can completely see how children grow up fearing Grandparental kisses.  I fear I shall not stop.

So boating.  Well it seems a very very long time ago now that we were on WaL, or even on the Thames in George and Carol's ship Still Rockin'.  But after David has enjoyed his sojourn to Florida playing golf....  Fingers crossed that the weather and babies are fine then we plan some days on WaL. 

But until then here are a few photos of new members of the family, I have many more, email me if you would like to see them all.

My mother holding her 6th Great Grandchild Luca.

My mother holding her 7th Great Grandchild Freya

Happy times ahead.


Friday 16 August 2019

No no no that's wrong, try turning the map upside down...

We had a lull in the bad weather, more rain was coming and the gales tomorrow.
We went for a walk.  David googled Pub Walks in the Chilterns.  

A National paper had done a feature on top ten best walks in the chilterns.  

HERE  (Follow these at your own peril)

Well the nearest to us was starting and finishing at Stoke Row, about 8 miles away.  We jumped in the car taking G&C's macs in a rucksack and off we went.  
It's a bad sign when you can't find the very first place in the instructions isn't it?

Well we did our best and asked two people who worked at the pub there at The Crooked Billet, both gave differing answers. The pub itself had one of those plaques on the wall outside, it had been used in the filming of Midsomer Murders.  We've seen a few of them.

Well we found a path and started off.  The sun shone, the birds sang and then the path turned in the wrong direction.

Sun through the trees, it didn't last.

Lovely woodlandy paths.

The instructions said to;

A walk with the promise of a meal and a drink at one of the most atmospheric gourmet country pubs in the area, where Kate Winslet celebrated her first marriage. The trail takes in woodland paths, rolling countryside and some sweeping views from Berins Hill over Oxfordshire. Don’t miss the Maharaja’s Well in Stoke Row, gifted to the village by the Maharaja of Benares in the mid-19th century.
Follow the trail north behind the pub skirting Bush Wood and Oakingham Bottom before joining English Lane. At English Farm, head west across Ipsden Heath (Woodland Trust) and on to Well Place. Then follow the Chilterns Way to Berins Hill before crossing the valley at Yewtree Brow and heading back east to the pub.

Join English Lane it says, but Reader when you get there it's one of a possible three lanes, none of which have any names on them.
Not at all annoying.

With the help of google maps when we had a signal we rather did our own walk.

David thinks the author is lazy, just sits at his desk in London and just makes it up with no respect to contours, certainly not having done the walk.

I just think he's an idiot.  I plan on emailing him and telling him so.  

But this below is English's Farm.  I would say owned by a hobby farmer.  No machinery, no debris associated with real life farming to be seen anywhere and David pointed out hardly any fences.

Restored old buildings, but for what?

Mown grass around a barn??????

 Quite a few of these pets.  No one in their right mind would breed these commercially.  Although pretty.

And I did see pretties too;

Way way off in the distance is The Thames.

Someone rich has built this, stark white, on a hill in an area of outstanding natural beauty, amazing to have got permission, David was scandalised and as we walked further away and up another hill on more and more of it came into view.
He's still banging on about it...

Now if you refer back to the pathetic instructions, we are now wanting the Chilterns Way to Berins Hill.  We never found it, instead we found ourselves in somebody's garden and hurried out onto another lane where, there was a board with a map on it of this exact area entitled 
"FOR ALL LOST WALKERS"  I can only think that this idiot writer has been responsible for hundreds of lost walkers all over the area.  
We were two more of them.

Well the heavens opened and I can testify that George and Carol keep good waterproofs.  We ended up back in the village of Stoke Row walking a couple of miles on a narrow lane in the face of speed merchant local drivers.

We passed on the pub but instead went to a village cafe which was delightful and served a very good flat white, salt beef and gherkin sandwiches  and raspberry & apple cake.

Home to SR.  packing and dusting filled the evening after we moved SR up above the lock onto the Lock mooring safe while we go north tomorrow.

In the morning we drove to Great Haywood where we met G&C and our beloved WaL which we haven't seen for three weeks prior to being on SR so six weeks in total.

She felt very small.

Its been a fabulous three weeks, really fabulous.   David loves the Thames and SR is the most comfortable boat, (especially the bed),  we have received no end on compliments about SR and no end of surprised looks when we say;

"No she not ours, we've done a boat swap!"

Thank you to George & Carol who entrusted us with their Home, we hope we've taken good care of her for you.

We filled up the car with people and bags and drove south to Goring to reunite the owners.  David and I enjoyed our last lunch on the back deck of SR, with the beautiful views here then loaded the car up with our bags and away home to our home we went.

Those babies are due in two weeks and I can't wait.  Life is going to change again.  Change is good, it keeps you young.

Cheerio for now.