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.


Monday 28 September 2020

Sanding begins

 After disappointing results with the polishing before on the Ashby... sides left looking whiteish, smeary and awful, we talked to anyone who would listen and have put the idea (mine) of a repaint on the back burner and are having another bash.  The forecast this week is a mixed one, but the main thing is that summer is definitely coming to an end, we just want dry and will take cool if its dry too.

So my take on it was I was going to start sanding and David was going to start washing wiping and polishing, till the penny dropped and we thought a bad combination of tasks.  
So I followed him along buffing.  The results we are pleased with, finally, but as I said before it really couldn't have looked any worse and WaL is looking red again, instead of white floaty patches all over.... definitely a work in progress.

David cycled off while I continued sanding those doors, I carried on until the the battery was flat and both my hands were juddering and tingling.  He returned as the battery finished from his new favourite place.... He had a full basket of treats and supper, yes of course M&S Foodhall at Stone.

Dreadful state the back back doors are in. 

Emmm what does this do?

Later we were delighted to welcome visitors.  The fragrant Carol and George new Land Lubbers lately of WB Still Rockin'  HERE.

Frequent Flyers to this and their blog will remember that last summer we entered into a Boat Swap with them (they are very brave and like adventures) and we took over their luxury wide beam on the Thames and had a very sunny month living the lifestyle many would only dream about,  whereas they sampled the contents our our boat wet weather clothing cupboard for their holiday in the midlands, oh dear.

Read all about it  HERE

Well Carol and George have made another big decision in leaving the SPLENDID  Still Rockin' and are living in the Midlands in a house and frankly Reader they are looking very well on it too.

Well it was lovely to see them again and even lovelier to put down the sander down.

They are living now in the vicinity of Audlem Locks and they've kept two winlasses too.  They say they are happy to help, but you'll need their mobile numbers to ask. 

We kept our distances but did enjoy supper together of Lasagna, salad, cheesecake and Tiramisu.  
Great to see you both again and hopefully not too long till we do again.

WB Still Rockin' is now for sale.  She is a proven Liveaboard, so comfortable and classy.  If you too fancy living the dream, look no further.

Friday 25 September 2020

Summer holidays begin.

We arrived back at Great Haywood on Saturday afternoon.  
A dreadful journey caused by the powers that be by closing both carriageways of the main A road in different places if you can believe it, causing widespread traffic queues and dreadful language from David. 
We had even taken avoiding action which helped but obviously all the other locals had too...

So nice to arrive at the marina where all angst and scrottiness melts away.

This upcoming trip had supposed to have been our main summer holiday, but David now is saying the weather will break up and he thinks we'll only be out a week or so.  

I on the other-hand have a vague idea that he has entered himself into some golf competition right in the middle of my summer holiday.... if this is the case and we go home early Reader I shall buy myself a new winter coat.  
That will teach him.

Unpacking didn't take very long, but I did discover that when I packed to come away a few weeks ago I'd forgotten that I'd left quite a bit of clothing here with the result that I can hardly get the drawers closed on WaL.  It's my age I'm sure making me so daft, I'd ask David to remember vital stuff like underwear levels stored on the boat but Reader he's more daft than me.

So after a mighty fine supper of steak, chips and salad followed by profiteroles, I should say that David has discovered Marks and Spencer's Food Halls, there was a wonderful surprise when he found the one in Stone a few weeks ago right next to the canal, we hadn't know it was there since we last went up the Trent & Mersey... and following on he discovered one at home only ten minutes on from his golf club.  He thinks that M&S have a bonkers way of displaying items, but I've assured him that with practice and repetition he'll soon find everything easily.
We had a meal deal for supper and fingers crossed we'll have another this week again, but not steak ever again on the boat, it makes such a mess and as he cooks I do the clearing up.

This morning we had planned to get away at the crack of 8am, but after David had fiddled with the wonky button on WaL that had got dislodged, again  and I had put the last of the unrequired clutter into the car boot we were late get to Weston where we were meeting John & Louise of NB Ploddin' Along, for Sunday Lunch at The Saracen's Head.  
Its only just up the canal, then we'd thought we would have time to start the dreaded sanding down of the wood on the back back doors, the back doors and if time the Pixie Seats.  (I'll take photos for clarification as it's entirely possible that these names are not the official terms used by the Boating Fraternity).

My new sander and the Pixie Seat.

Two boats waiting already at the first lock and we are informed that a vintage boat and it butty have just gone up the lock causing a backlog of boats...   I went up to help and kept as far away as possible from the other crews, several of which are loitering/mingling...  
But soon we were away again and the thin cloud began to burn off leaving patches of blue sky becoming larger.   An approaching boat yelled out in passing that there were another three boats waiting to go up at the next lock, gawd. 
Well we didn't see the two vintage boats but I dived inside after the second lock to get changed, David called down to say here's a mooring and to jump off with the middle rope, hahaha I was undressed.

Anyway, we almost ran in the pub and within a few minutes the Fine Company had arrived.  
A great afternoon was had relaxing, enjoying the company, the food and the view southwards over the meadows and hills.
More polishing hints and advice was sought and given.  The sanding is my job and the polishing is David's.  I'll take some before and after photos.

Sunday Lunch was calamari, roast lamb and raspberry posset, google posset if you don't know, it was a cracker.

Blast no photos of John and Louise.


Saturday 19 September 2020

A working holiday.

Dear Reader, 

Small confession to make, in the intervening weeks away, we were sneaky and had a quick week on WaL with a daughter and SIL, but I "Forgot" to blog......ahem.

So by way of an after thought, I'll do a quick recap and post a few photos.

During the time at home we celebrated my mother's 90th birthday, she had all her Grandchildren (5) there and all her Great Grandchildren (7) there too.

A few days later it was our own two Grandchildren's birthdays, Luca and Freya are just one year old now but by golly a lot has happened in their short lives.

So we arrived back at WaL and had a few days before they arrived and by good fortune, we met up with new friends David and Sarah from NB Hodma'dod, they popped down to Tixall to spend a few days while they awaited an important delivery.  Luckily we were at Tixall by then too.  The last time we were together for a few days was last year on the Staffs to Worcester when we were having the solar panels fitted at Wolverley.  We then travelled with then down the River Severn and parted company at Tewkesbury.  Although live-aboards they had spent Lockdown in their sons house whilst he had an extended stay in Portugal, every cloud so to speak.

We were in Tixall to have a bash at painting the other side of the gunwales black, we had managed to do one side while we were up on the Ashby back in August.  Goodness that seems an age ago now.  But we didn't get chance to complete the other side  due to the extra hot heat!

WaL looked a complete mess before, some will say not an awful lot better afterwards, but that's enthusiastic amateurs for you, (Actually I'm not everso enthusiastic)


I might just say that I'm not responsible for many of these gauges and scrapes....

Finished, frankly Reader it couldn't look worse.

The glistening Hodma'dod with its owners Sarah and David.

We said our goodbyes to the Hoddies and after turning made our way back to Great Haywood Marina, thankful that our company were delayed some 15 minutes giving us time to moor up.  They jumped on and off we went again, out onto the Trent and Mersey canal and northwards.

The Hoddies had been this week in the Plume and Feathers pub at Barleston and had rated not only the food but all the Covid19 stuff that goes with these days, so we had in mind to take the visitors there for Sunday Lunch then turn and head back so they could get home again in time for work.

It meant an early-ish start the next morning after mooring that teatime above Sandon, but the insomniac did so and we had a most pleasant cruise over the next few days.  
Our SIL (son-in-law) Mitch frequent flyers to this blog might remember is from NZ, so he spent the week pretty much bare foot, he leaps about like a circus acrobat, I begged him not to jump across the empty lock over WaL as she came in..... I know he can (and has) easily cleared jumping a lock but he was going to do it without a run-up and my nerves really couldn't stand it.

So nice having hardy guests, when it rained they stuck it out and I lounged into the cratch, watching.

We had fearsome card games.  Our favourite is called Hearts and can only be played with four people, so when they come we always play.  Did I tell you Reader that Mitch the acrobat is also a complete Card Shark?  He counts cards and knows by some magic who is holding what, he rarely looses but oh my golly he didn't win on one match.  Usually I come last but on two days running Reader I didn't.

They also taught us a new game that David and I can play, but I hate the name 'Shithead' so I am trying to make another name up.

So it was a lovely few days together, The Plume of Feathers has got Covid19 sorted with very effective measures in place and we were all relaxed and the food was delicious too, we'll go again.

All types of weather were had by us but on the whole nice.  Lastly who do you think she looks like, she is our youngest and she is a good mix of us both me thinks.

More from us later.

Sunday 23 August 2020

Quick flit to home.

I predicted last night that we would be hard pressed to get through the Atherstone locks,  eleven locks they start off close together but then spread out.
I was correct.

It is such an attractive run up to the flight and again we haven't had the time to stop and explore a little more, in fact I think that between Nuneaton and the flight is the best scenery.  We would have moored up there last night but it was so ghastly hot that we by-passed the views in favour of shade.  
Gently rolling hills, some wooded stretches and some view points over the valley.

Here below is a taster, note the grey cloud but such a relief to be cooler.

Gorgeous countryside along this stretch.

We arrived at the Atherstone locks with the welcomed sight of a boat exiting up the top lock and two volunteers in attendance.
Always nice to chat to these lovely people, but I do admit to being marginally disappointed that the two chaps stayed put at the top lock.... in the past when there have been a few on duty here, one may walk down two or three locks to lend a hand.

Atherstone Top Lock and cute cottage.
WaL exiting the second or third lock.

So here is a riddle Reader, before we arrived, the locks were full because a boat had completed the flight coming up.  We entered three full locks on our way down.  When I got to the next lock it was empty, completely empty and I "Gave" it to the boat coming up but who hadn't quite arrived.  Neither I not the lady on the boat NB 3 No Trumps, could explain the one and only empty lock, with no other boat having past either of us and she too had had to empty each of the locks coming up.
All paddles down and I am not buying the idea that it was leaky and had totally emptied itself. 
Answers on a postcard please.

In talking to this other boat we both realised that 4 years ago we had come up the Anderton Boat Lift together.  Small boating world.   HERE.

Looks like a good year for Elderberry wine.

Pretty enough for a bridesmaids posy, but it's a Bindweed relative.

Well we stopped in the centre of town and popped into the nice Co-Op here, raced around, back to WaL and then moved off again, we had debated and faffed and thought as the forecast was to have full on steady rain at 2pm we'd have plenty of time to finish the flight before then, so I found the wet weather kit just in case and we set off quickly but not quickly enough and a CART work boat came past us as we were about to undo the ropes, inward groan, he was a single hander so he'd be bound to hold us up.  

Nothing to do about it but go anyway.  I decided to walk the extended stretch to the next lock to stretch my back out a bit.  When I got to the lock a boat was coming up and the work boat was already ahead!  I ate my own words.

One lock done and the rain started, of course.  Well we carried on to Lock nine I think and called it a day, moored up and that's when I found out that I really need new wet weather kit.....

We stopped to the next morning and although rain was due we did set off and stayed dry.

Now some years ago I posted a photo of this hull.... I asked then when does a restoration project tip over and become a scrapage matter...
Worth saving now?  Presumably the owners have not the inclination or perhaps funds or else it would have been done.  

Similar issue here?  Funds lacking so it falls down?
Interesting line in design here.

Not my taste as I don't like black.

 Over the next couple of days, we stopped at Hopwas, and  Fradley Junction.  I was determined to call into the The Swan pub or known widely amongst boaters as The Mucky Duck.  Its changed hands quite a few times over the past years and I just wanted to try it out.  So we walked up to it, tables spread all over the carpark, waitress service, all looking good and then customers food started to arrive and that did the trick, we ordered, two fish and chips for £20 and it was delicious Reader.  They were very busy too so if you are close by give it a try.

We walked after lunch over the fields and far away at Fradley something I've not done before.  Most pleasant.

Stopped here the night and the weather the following morning was damp, we waited and pondered and dithered and eventually us and the boat behind decided to move, I walked to post a letter and the heavens opened, of course again...
There was a wait at both locks and by that time we were both soaked but carried on and moored up again almost at Armitage.

Look and laugh at the heavy rain on the canal......

David bringing WaL through Plum Pudding cutting

And finally the approach to Great Haywood with the hills of Cannock Chase beyond.

It's been a super time this cruise.  We've met up with Boaters that we haven't seen in ages and enjoyed some good weather even if it has been BOILING at times.  

And look who is here Reader!  

Well, if you are not familiar with this boat its called NB Whitefield.  It was built by our boat builder Fernwood Designs back before WaL was started.  The owners wanted it to have the look of a boat from the south of France.  It was shown at Crick too. Its had a chequered past, changing hands a few times already but now its come to live at Great Haywood. 


So that's us for now.  Home tomorrow for our Grandchildren's first birthdays.  How quickly did that happen?

We'll be back presently.