Sunday, 31 January 2010

Iced in again

We woke to ice again yesterday morning and, with the forecast for colder nights to come, we decided to stay where we were. I set off through Kingsbury Park and across the river Tam to find a shop which also contained a butcher. This must be my prettiest walk to a shop ever.

Graham made some bread and the very nice guy in the boat behind filled our Jerry can with petrol for the genny, so we are OK for 4 or 5 days if needs must. We probably won't go to Worcester now as we only have 5 weeks and there are over 170 locks, but we will make a final decision when we can move again.

I met this most extraordinary dog yesterday, it was like a whirling dervish and wouldn't stand still for long enough to get a decent photo. It was like watching a mop head moving at 100 mph. The owner said that it never stopped moving whilst awake & then slept where it dropped for 14 hours. This was the best shot I could get although.......
....I've included this one to give an idea of how tiny it is using Muttley for scale. Evidently, it is a deliberate cross between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Bichon Frise, I'll swear it was smaller than Daisy and is certainly a good size for a boat; however, I would want one with an 'on' and 'off' switch.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Day for Cloudscapes

I had very little sleep last night, the rain was lashing down on the roof, but woke this am to a cold, bright, blustery day. The big sky & light contrast made me feel quite nostalgic for Norfolk. I took these pics of cloud formations as I walked the boys round Kingsbury Water Park .

The park was lovely, unlike the gravel pits nearer Fazeley these are mature and landscaped wetlands. Fantastic bird life.

We stayed here today as it seemed to be the easiest place to meet up with some old mates from work. It's a nice spot and it seemed like a good excuse to meet with them for a meal.

Just arrived back from dog walking and finished loading these photos & then it chucked it down with snow. The moon is full with a very, very, bright star near by. The canal is freezing over again and we are very short of basics like eggs and milk - the landlord here posted our letters for us today and said not to worry because they would fetch any shopping we needed. They are very sweet, but I really would love to move on tomorrow. Dying to get into gas street, Dougie & James from NB Spirit spent two weeks there. Hi guys, love to Oscar.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bodymoor Heath

Pulled pins this morning (only just; another 45 seconds and it would have been this afternoon) & ambled off through 3 locks, having stopped for water, before mooring up at the Dog & Doublet. I walked it yesterday in an hour - it took us over 2 hours by boat. There again, apart from stopping for water, we also stopped for a long natter with some really nice people.

I like these locks - they have a proper plank attached and a safety rail, although it does make them quite heavy, especially as they are single gates. The only other place that I've seen single gates is on the South Oxford and those were done to save money.

This pile of wood is on a farm on the other side of the cut - I might just have a word with the farmer tomorrow as we are completely out of wood now.We spotted some good wood today but, as is so often the case, the cut was too shallow to get the boat in.

G trying to make my glasses fit!!!! I think he was on his second pint at this stage.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The day turned out quite nice

The day started out rubbishy, but turned out lovely later. The sunset was fabulous and I spent a very cosy night without Daisy glued to my hip (don't know why, but it was heaven).

G arrived back around 6.00pm and we shall move on tomorrow although, I suspect, not very far. Now Caxton is not about to keep us on our toes, I suspect we shall be quite lazy for a week or two.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Solitary wanderings

I wandered back towards Fazeley Junction today in search of a pint of milk and a bit of green stuff. Not a Labrador in sight as I walked, only 2 Yorkshire Terriers with a lot of aggression between them - very odd.

Past the mini, castellated, spiral stepped footbridge and the many old converted mill buildings which look fantastic but don't photo well.

In a strangely nothing-ish sort of area, I found a tiny Tesco, post office, fish & chip shop, chemist, two Chinese take-aways and a Chinese restaurant, two Indian restaurants and a Bangladeshi take-away! All in the space of around 100 yards. Isn't it typical that I find these when everyone else has gone. Food is a social pleasure, not a solitary one - years of travelling on my own before I married taught me this.

On a completely different note, spring must be just around the corner as BW are chopping hedgerows before the wildlife starts nesting. Although they are doing a better job of clearing up the blackthorn trimmings behind them than they did on the South Oxford Canal, my return journey still encountered a number of punctured dogs and 'cyclists.

Empty nest syndrome.......

.........or do I need to change my deodorant?

Yesterday Lesley & Joe trundled off into the sunrise on NB Caxton & today G trundled off into the sunrise to collect the car from the garage at Little Haywood. We shall meet up with Caxton again at Braunston when their stretch has been completed. So, in the meantime, it's just us chickens.

G & I walked the dogs into the village of Drayton Bassett yesterday in search of, "post office, stores, fish & chips". Sad to say that none of those 3 exist now; worse the bus shelters wait in vain for buses that no longer come. It would not be possible to live in this pleasant village if you couldn't drive/couldn't afford a car.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Home Grown

Last year I planted grow bags of rocket & mixed salad leaves with considerable success & satisfaction. So, this year, I would like to start earlier & grow a wider variety of produce but, as is always the case on a narrowboat, space is limited so how do I prioritise? I have (I think) devised a cunning plan by choosing produce that comes within two or more of the following criteria:

* high usage
* high cost
* poor availability
* short life

This leaves me with a short list of rocket, mixed salad, basil, coriander, spring onions, baby leeks, chillies, runner beans and beansprouts. Now I have to do the research to see which are practical. In the meantime, I can start indoors with the beansprouts - easy peasy. Remember growing mustard & cress on blotting paper as a kid? Spread mung beans on a plate covered with damp kitchen roll and leave it in a warm place, adding warm water as required to keep damp.

Easy peasy my a**e!!!

Closer inspection (sorry about the focus) shows that 95% grew in on themselves and remained foetal.

Of the 5% that grew upright, they grew roots and leaves before the stems sprouted properly. This is my third and, sadly, most successful attempt. I hope this isn't an omen for the coming growing season

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Our new gold licence has been tracked down!

None of the bridges on this canal are numbered; they all carry individual names which makes them much more personal, but a bit of a b****r to remember for those of us suffering from senior did I say I'd meet him at Drayton Footbridge or was it Drayton Brick Bridge....or was it Fishers Brick Bridge?
They are 'growing' big lakes and water meadows here and a fair amount of bird life has already moved in. I'm sure it will be lovely in a few years, but it doesn't offer a lot for the walker at the moment being, primarily, a vast desolate area of mud.
Daisy has developed a complex about being mistaken for a kitten. She has decided that she is malnourished and has demanded a bigger food bowl (I'm going to need a litter tray the size of a bath tub!).

Our licence expired at the end of December 09 and we applied early December for a gold licence as we are 'doing' the fens this summer, we gave G's daughter's address for delivery as we knew we would see her over xmas/new year. The cheque was cashed on 9th December. Phoned BW in Jan & was told it had been processed on 10th Jan and would be with us shortly. Today I tracked it down in Norfolk. So now it has to go Norfolk to Northampton & then Northampton to a suitable post office - methinks we could be looking dodgy for a week or two yet.
This whole 'address' business is becoming a pain as we can no longer use the one we have been for the last two years. Tomorrow I shall have a word with the company being advertised by River Canal Rescue & see what they can offer.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Making the most of our "captivity"

Knowing that we were going to be"stuck" for some time, and still having the car with us from Xmas, Graham took the opportunity of getting the materials he needed to fashion some top boxes for Matilda Rose. We were both fed up with the unsightly mess on the roof and the ugly car top box. The latter of which has to be emptied onto the towpath, lifted off the roof, trotted through bridge holes, re-loaded & re-packed every time we come to a low bridge - way too reminiscent of the Beverly Hillbillies.
A very good job he has done too & many boaters have asked where we purchased them & what they cost, quite a compliment to G's practical skills - so, if any of you want him to make you one, do speak up; I hate to see a grown man sitting about enjoying himself and watching sport whilst drinking cider and eating crisps!!!!!
We then advertised, and sold, our old (but perfectly good - didn't fit OUR requirements) boiler and car top box with rails on E-bay. More space for us and not something we can normally do as "buyer collects" has to "find" a constantly moving Matilda Rose target.
Lesley and I both managed to get the village hairdresser to "dry" cut our hair for £10 (we were beginning to look a little like Shetland ponies - well, Lesley was; although being a little taller, I would describe myself as more of an Exmoor pony). A sudden thought has just ocurred to me Shetlands are very stable (no pun intended) as they have a lower centre of gravity, although are renouned for being quite bad tempered at times.
Further advantages of being stuck are finding a lovely friendly village pub with lot of real ales and paying enough visits to try them all.
I also made time to rummage in cupboards and remove some clothes and books to a charity shop in Stafford although I still haven't found an acceptable way to part with high heeled Jane Stilton boots (hardly worn) or a Radley (brand new) handbag. Anyone want to swap them for Berghaus boots, a rucksack and waterproofs - throw in a wheelbarrow on skis and it's a done deal.

Water water everwhere and not a drop to drink!

It has been a long while since I blogged, largely because we seem to have had such a poor signal at Great Haywood junction & we were moored there for over a month as, by the time we returned from Christmas in Norfolk, we - like so many others -were well and truly iced in.
A nicer place to be stuck I cannot imagine: 2 pubs, shop, butchers, hairdressers, pet shop and a terrific gang of boaters all in the! Shugborough Hall and Cannock Chase to walk the dogs, even a water point - about 250 yards away and over the bridge across the junction with the Staffs & Worcs. Graham rounded up 8 hose pipes from stranded boaters, plus some from the boat yard and residential moorers and all the connectors we could beg and borrow - it wasn't the fastest flow but we weren't rushing off anywhere and 8 boats had full water tanks by 7.00pm.
We also had a surprise visit from Anne, Chas & Molly from NB More2Life who were stranded in the Marina. Later on we also met the 2 Border Collies (Meg & Lucy) from NB No Problem (Anne was dog sitting. So Lesley (NB Caxton), Anne, 7 dogs & I had some fun walking; the dogs all had a really great time and, I think, Muttley rather enjoyed not being the smallest - that honour went to Molly the Jack Russell (only don't tell Molly).
So, finally, this Tuesday, we were on our way down the Trent & Mersey (Staffs & Worcs plan abandoned), reaching the Mucky Duck before being thwarted, once again, by ice on the Coventry. Friday we were able to move on again, but we gave up and stopped by The Plough at Huddlesford as it had been hammering down with rain all morning. Today we turned onto the B'ham & Fazeley - new territory for us and, if signal continues, I will blog regularly again.

Monday, 11 January 2010

3 Vans, 3 men, 3 Bollards, 3 Loads of B******s

What are BW complaining about not having enough money to upkeep the system, they can afford to send three men in 3 different vans to put in 3 bollards that no one wants nor needs. This is 2010 madness. BW need to put there middle management in order get them up to date with how many men it needs to change a light bulb etc... Get your act together BW.