Friday, 27 February 2009

Perfect day up the Napton flight

Having tried to do the sensible thing and "rest" my stupid foot, I gave up today & tried to get as close as possible to my normal routine. The sun was shining and we had the beautiful flight of 9 locks at Napton ahead of us. I needed to be out there with my dogs & working them (the locks and the dogs) - I was not prepared to stay on the back of the boat getting bored, stressed & cold. So I put my foot down (ha) and swallowed extra pain killers. What a lovely day, the sun was really warm and we never saw another boat until we got to the top lock and two were coming down. This meant we could take our time & we used the rope to close the far side gates behind MR as she went in (which saved some walking). The tow path is lovely & wide with only one or two muddy spots - oh the joy of getting some excercise again at last. We had such a good run that we were moored up by about 1.30, so we decided to set about the wood we'd been given by BW tree fellers (why does that always make me want to come out with the old Irish joke) on the run down to Brinklow last week. We had to wait until Daisy had finished sharpening her weapons of mass destruction (better that than using MR's upholstery). She then went off & bought back and ate at least 4 mice whilst we were sawing & splitting & left the "gizzards" where the dogs found them, ate them & then were sick. Tired after a hard days hunting, she then got back on the boat & barfed all through the galley and the bathroom- the joy of animals. By the time we'd logged all that wood, we were starving & craving carbs, so we hoovered large platefuls of pasta and home made chips - perfect. We nearly rounded it off with pancakes (and I'm not talking the buckwheat variety here), but decided that would be just too piggy, so had another glass of wine instead, oh, and a piece of G's cinnamon apple crumble sponge & cream. It's such a hard life.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

What do I do with........?

Yesterday was declared a day of rest, only someone forgot to explain the meaning to Baxter. We have installed a cat flap in the galley/bathroom door which means that we can keep it closed(keeps dogs out of the bedroom & the cat food, whilst giving Daisy free access & keeping the heat in the saloon in the evenings). That's the theory anyway, which has worked well until we changed our routine by having a lie-in this morning. Baxter decided to investigate our non-appearance and stuck his head through the cat flap and then pushed- joy oh joy the door came off it's catch; the next we knew we were stampeded & trampled by a herd (well, only two, but it felt like more) of joyous, waggy, bouncy, licky dogs. One of which then decided to play dragons - this involves lieing flat, levitating ones body vertically & shouting a lot whilst kicking humans in the kidneys. Needless to say we abandoned the lie in. Graham made an apple, cinnamon crumble sponge cake (delicious) and dangled a pole in the water and I actually dug out my watercolours & used them. When the shop was open 6 days a week I took one and a half days off per week to paint-this is only the third time the paints have been out since retiring just over a year ago! Living on a boat, especially in the winter, takes up an awful lot of time: well you don't want to rush things do you & there's wood to fetch & log, food to fetch & cook, dogs to walk & groom.....

Whilst disposing of rubbish at Braunston junction I noticed that a boater had left a mattress in pretty much immaculate condition by the bins-I hope someone gives it a home before it rains and gets ruined. Which brings me to the point of this blog; what do I do with all the perfectly good items on the boat that I now know I do not need? For instance, only the top half of my oven gets hot so any deep dishes are useless; this liberates several Denby casserole dishes before we move on to Rumptoft chicken bricks, just to start the ball rolling. I can't e-bay them (way too much hassle without transport & packing materials) & I don't want money for them, but I would like to find a good home for them. Anyone any bright ideas for some kind of swap shop or "help yourself (or donations to charity)" stands at some of the boat gatherings with, maybe, drop off points at some chandlers? I know we're not the only ones with a load of such items and it seems a criminal waste for them to end up in landfill. One way or another things have to go as they are taking up precious space - it looks like Banbury charity shops will benefit as that is the next town we go through the centre of; it's still a long way to carry heavy/bulky stuff though.

Passed Ten Bob Note on our travels today.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Little bloggers everywhere!

Left a day earlier than intended & suddenly realised that the NB we were passing was Dot & Derek on Gypsy Rover. Graham feasted on their blog vicariously whilst we were trying to sell the business and buy a boat. They shouted that they were winding & would be back shortly, so we stopped for water after Newbold Tunnel & they pulled up within a few minutes. Derek makes an excellent cuppa (for a New Zealander).
We stopped & nattered & nattered & nattered, & after 1hr and 45mins we realised that we were running out of day, they were heading for Tesco & we still had a fair distance to go to get to our country mooring, so left somewhat reluctantly - hope we catch them again with more time before they return to New Zealand. Here they are following us down over the aquaduct.

We rounded the bend and there's the cucumber (or is it a gherkin?) - Pickles No 2: gone distinctly green since we met at Foxton over xmas. Lovely to see you again Pete, sorry we couldn't stop there, (KeithPete to you Lesley).

We also passed Les & Valerie - it's all go round here. So quick I couldn't even get off a photo.
Ended up driving the boat today whilst Graham walked the dogs - the irony was I had to drive under the wrecked bridge 80 which I spoof photo'd in connection with my wrecked chimney! Pleased to say I inflicted no further damage, but no one has attempted to fix it either (the bridge not my chimney) since we were last here on 6th December.
The 6th Dec was our first night out travelling with Lesley & Joe on Caxton, we cracked their bottle of champagne on this spot which, I think, was donated by Greygal. Thank you guys for a ton of fun & we have two dogs missing F & F a great deal.

Take care & we'll cruise together again we're sure.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Playground in the sun

Caxton, now being back in the marina, have caught up with their car and Lesley very kindly collected Graham and drove him up to Grantham so that he could see his mum and bring our car back (we need to position it at Cropredy for running Muttley to & from vets). He stayed overnight & I woke early Thursday morning to gorgeous sunshine and a peaceful shower (he always seems to wait until I'm in the shower before he starts climbing about on the roof doing makes life on the ocean waves a bit too realistic).
I've always liked this mooring with it's wide tow path & it was no hardship hovering outside in the warm sunshine & nattering to current neighbours whilst waiting for Gosty Hill to deliver coal and diesel.
Gosty hadn't even tied up along side before Daisy spotted this lovely new adventure playground. Never as much as a, "please" or, "may I?" to their indignant Jack Russell-she just jumped ship and helped herself. He was so dumbfounded by her audacity that he could only bring himself to bristle with indignation.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The first sounds of spring

We spent the weekend at that lovely spot & they all went off for a pint & a spot of geo-caching on Saturday & much industrious wood sorting on Sunday, whilst I hobbled around ineffectually & made cups of tea & soup. I am so fed up with this foot which is not getting any better (although I suppose we could have reversed MR back to the pub!).

At least they wore the dogs out for me.

Here comes MR round the ridiculous turn at Hawkesbury junction from the Coventry onto the Oxford. Given this was the first pub in my walking distance for over a week I jumped ship, did the stop lock & disappeared into the Greyhound to order the beers; rudely leaving the others to moor up further on. We had a really nice lunch there & set off towards Stretton & Brinklow today after a very leisurely start.
Travelling today I heard the first sounds of spring. Fellow bloggers have been photoing the first sights of spring: snowdrops, lambs, even daffodils, but today I heard the first sounds. No, not a cuckoo, "slow down," "look at your bow wave," "tiller the other way", "reverse it off". Yep. The sounds of spring - the hire boats are back & my man's blood pressure is rising along with the sap.

Friday, 13 February 2009

New chimney base & 5 star pikey lodgings

Contrary to scurillous mis-representations on another blog, I did not demolish my chimney - I just loosened the base a bit (well, quite a lot actually) & the man that fixed it said it had already happened before & not been fixed properly (chivalry is not completely dead). So here is my new robust base - looks sound enough to withstand a bridge or ten! The Bridge may take a little longer to fix!!!

Set off up the Atherstone flight today in glorious sunshine (and I even managed not to hit anything), it really was quite spring like. These two country gentlemen were enjoying a gongoozle & gossip by lock 10 and looked very much the part-I tried to catch a photo without them noticing, but I don't think it worked.

The view behind me down the Atherstone flight.

It was certainly the weather for nattering & a number of people lent us a hand up the flight, including Tony the lockkeeper (picturedwith his dog).

This is the view from our windows tonight

with Caxton moored up in front of us & Daisy on her stern enjoying the evening sun.

Baxter found a pikey place with 5 star dog beds lying around in the hedge; not the sort of dog to pass a resting place he stopped for 40 winks

- I hope he hasn't picked up any fleas.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Oh big time bum

Beefur suddenly appeared, they'd followed our blog & seen the change of plan & realised we would meet, lovely.
I'm still stuffed with the fact that I can't walk, so I feel like a pile of useless s***t, so to try & earn my keep I drove the boat & misjudged the bridge & ripped the chimney out by its roots, it'll only cost us another £?? how good do I feel, yuk

Monday, 9 February 2009

Confined to barracks

Forced to sit with my foot up whilst I should be exploring the countryside with my dogs is very frustrating & boring. The dogs were not impressed either so Graham tried to entertain them with a cookery lesson (very nice the curry was too) & I read Baxter a story (although I think he was disappointed that there weren't any pictures).
Decided enough was enough today and managed to find a doctor who would see me. £16.00 in taxi fares (to cover a distance I would normally walk without thinking twice) only to be told to rest it, keep taking the anti-inflamataries (or however you spell it) & the problem was caused because I walk too much!!! Much piss taking going on from Caxton' s crew who have decided we shall move on tomorrow (weather permitting), I don't know which is amusing them most; the thought of my driving or his walking.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Complete change of plans (again)

Muttley's ear infection came back again so we took him to a vet, a couple of weeks back, and were told there wasn't too much wrong with him. However, we still had a dog who was clearly being bothered-carrying his head, shaking his ears, scratching, etc. So, the day of the driving snow, we walked a miserable 5 mile round trip to a vet at Burton who wanted to operate. Not as simple as it sounds as both these dogs (& Muttley's brother) got into difficulties under GA when having their pockets emptied last year. Contacted experts (vet friends, previous vets & internet) & decided not to proceed with the op here at unknown vet but we accept that something has to be done. So..we are applying anti-bios & instead of continuing, albeit vaguely, in the general direction of Liverpool, we've hung a left onto the Coventry (at Fradley Junction) to head back to Banbury to entrust Muttley to the ministrations of the trusted vet John at Mansion Hill, Middleton Cheney (who actually listens to you, gives you options in English & doesn't kick off about nomadic boaters). If it does end with an op; we would rather John did it.
Caxton set off from Alrewas on Friday morning & I spent the morning finishing the meal for our friends from Norfolk-praying the weather conditions wouldn't stop them travelling. It didn't! so here are Lesley (yes, another Lesley) & Graham & the lovely Bonnie! These are guys we first met whilst caravanning in Norfolk & a gang of us meet each year now & incorporate a bit of Broads sailing on their boat, "Poppy" when the weather permits each May. Due to circumstances outside of their control, this is the first time they've been able to see Matilda Rose - I think Lesley quite liked my Wendy House! It was so good to see them.
Heard a bit of low level ice breaking going on on Saturday before we left and yes, it was these swans, consistently going back & forth and breaking chanels with their chests-I've never seen them do this before.
Graham has had a rotten cold & I seem to have done something to my foot in the last day or two so setting off to catch up with Caxton we weren't at our finest! I took some pain killers and decided my foot was better, so headed off along the towpath with the dogs. I began to think I wouldn't make the second lock as my foot rapidly deteriorated, so I ended up back on the boat & NB Caxton's Lesley walked down & helped Graham work the 3 locks into Fradley (thank you Lesley). I tried to walk on it today, but couldn't even reach the Mucky Duck; I'm fed up now.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Branston to Alrewas

The planning committee wanted to stop at Barton Turn so that we could visit Barton-under-Needwood, but the parallel main road made that a no no for an overnighter. So we decided to leave at 9.00am and walk in during the day then moor up at Alrewas (doesn't trip off the tongue, does it?). So an early start was made, rewarded by this magnificent sunrise.

Here we are watering before Barton Turn Lock, Caxton has it easy, whilst Graham holds off trying not to reduce a tiny tender to splinters as I fill up the front.

We had a quick explore into the town & I don't know the history of the place but there was a consistent curvy architecture to a lot of the buildings. Lovely.

This was the walk through another water park and Barton Turns Marina to the village-contrary to the Nicholsons guide, there is no chandlery, books, or gifts at the Marina.

The approach off the river into Alrewas Lock.
Moored up in the centre in time for a cuppa & a quick preliminary recce before dark.

Very pretty and an amazing butchers!