Thursday 25 December 2008

Foxton is the "I Spy" of bloggers

It is also the "it girl" of the cut. Unfortuately, I have absolutely no connection whilst there so I've just popped on a few recent

photos whilst I can - I make no apology for including one of Ted at Blake Mere earlier this year on the Llangollen.

This is the most social time we've had since taking up residence on MR and I would love to mention everyone we've met and whose company we have so much enjoyed whilst lurking in this area, but the list is so long (and my ability to get names right is c**p) & you all know who you are - we'll be back soon & ready to play in good time for New Year .

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Big Ted has left us with a very empty space

My big old , lovely, beautiful, Ted went out last Friday & came back when I called after 10 mins in a bad way-his back end was paralysed & it wasn't going to get any better and he was in pain. We did what we had to do.

He was nearly 19 & knowing he'd had a good innings doesn't actually make it any better, because he's been in our lives longer &, therefore, played a longer part in our lives and is missed even more.

We've had nearly 19 years of gorgeous affection & cuddles - thank you Ted.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Defeated by gloop!

Having moored up just before the Welford arm on Sunday, we walked down the arm into the village shop-absolutely magic carving of Postman Pat & his black & white cat (I'll show you one day if I ever get a signal!). On the return journey, Lesley pointed out that we needed to get a wriggle on if we were to get back to the boats before dark (no torches & pretty poor tow path). At which point "leg it" Lesley hit her turbo charge button & Jo & I never saw her again until we got home. Graham (who'd stayed behind to make dinner) reckoned Fletcher arrived first, followed by Lesley 5mins later and Jo & I and the remainder of the dogs 45 mins later (I NEVER exaggerate!).

The following day we did a round walk through the village taking in the two reservoirs that feed the Leicester line of the GU & had time for a pint & a bite in the pub at the end of the arm & found fellow bloggers in their spanking new NB Derwent 6 moored in front of us. Today we set off for the top of Foxton locks with Lesley & I walking the dogs as usual; the tow path got narrower & gloopier & then took on a 45 degree slant - not my idea of fun, so I left Lesley & the labs to it & did something really radical - hitched a ride on Matilda Rose!

Had lunch on Caxton after mooring up - a kingfisher sat outside for 5-10 mins - I might get that photo up one day too.

Saturday 13 December 2008

Conned again!

Having listened to the wind & rain most of the night, I suggested G text NB Caxton to see if they were changing plans & staying put (what I actually said was something along the lines of, "if those daft buggers are moving in this lot, they can go by themselves"). Having been informed (by my social secretary) that, "not bloody likely" were they moving I turned over for another 30mins & then sorted out a couple of very important items such as the start times of both lots of Strictly & would it clash with either lot of X Factor - no it wouln't. Leisurely cooked poached eggs on toast for breakfast & we had the makings of a VERY nice day, despite the weather. Nicely chilled, I started peeling a ton of veg for a big heartwarming pot of soup (for chilly cruisers on the morrow), when I became aware of further comms between boats, "....forecast not clearing...we need water.....dogs need walking.....leaving in 40 mins"
How did we get from, "not bloody likely", to, "leaving in 40 mins"?
So, here we are, just beyond Yelvertoft having watered, walked, disposed of rubbish & re-moored: surrounded by wet things steaming & dripping from every available surface - I promise to let Graham & the boys down when the worst of them has dripped dry. The walk wasn't, actually, too bad because Lesley & I eschewed the tow path (canal winds & loops) for the direct, shingled, path straight into the village & hung a right down the road, rejoining the boats at the water point with only one flash flood to be negotiated.
Despite the continuing heavy rain, Daisy insisted on going out & caught 4 mice in less than 45 mins, at one point I spotted her pouncing whilst another she'd caught was still in her mouth (Lesley suggested I try feeding her, but that seems a bit radical). In fact, since we started travelling with Caxton, Daisy has been quite the drama queen - I think it was the first afternoon we moored up together and only just had time for Lesley to pop the champagne cork for Joe & Lesleys inaugaral cruise on Caxton (collection to Marina doesn,t really count) when Graham spotted her (Daisy, not Lesley) swimming down the far side of the boat! We hadn't even had time to put her escape fenders down, but was very gratifed to see that she scrambled out over the arnco with little difficulty. A day or two later, both boats were ready to pull pins, but we were a Daisy short of a crew. Wandered up and down calling her until I heard her distress call: she was on an old barge hull on the OTHER side of ths canal & clearly not wanting to swim back to me if there was an alternative on offer. One day, when she's old enough to understand, I'll sit her down & explain to her that she is a cat.

Thursday 11 December 2008

Xmas past (or passing)

It's strange that, when you're living on the cut, how "mainstream life" passes you by. I was heard to say today, when we & NB Caxton's crew were walking in to Crick, that the day was probably Thursday the 11th or 12th November! We did our usual on a non-cruising day; went for a walk, plastered ourselves & the dogs in mud, walked to the village & stocked up on fresh veg and popped into the local for a pint. Absolutely could not think, for a mo, why a village pub would be heaving on a Thursday lunchtime. Sat in mud splattered dogs, boots & trousers whilst everyone else was turning up in their finery for their office Xmas lunch.
After lunch, Lesley & I left G & Joe to log the wood we picked up yesterday and walked up Cracks Hill with the dogs. I had to stop & admire the view twice on the way up (pause to breathe!) whilst "leg it" Lesley got up in one! The lass clearly walks on water as she has not only blogged but uploaded pics. This is the first connection I've managed in days & no chance of photos, which is a shame as I have some nice ones. Maybe another day.
One of my greatest pleasures, and there have been many, of travelling the two boats together recently, has been the company of someone who loves to walk as much as I do & share the sheer joy of watching dogs being dogs & forming their happy pack together. Each morning, when they are re-united, Floyd bumbles up & mouths B & M's ears - they stand on their back legs & have a quick paw box & then Fletcher & Muttley are off & running. I have loads more to catch up on - besides photos - but 'puter's telling me this may fail grrrrrrrr!

Thursday 4 December 2008

One of those days

Very little sleep last night due to the noise from the rain. G put the (cross) bed up this morning & everything was as normal; I wandered through a few minutes later & squelched round to the far side of the bed!!!! Turned off the water and pulled everything out, assuming it was the calorifier: nothing. Cautiously turned the water back on, followed by the boiler, water heaters, ran taps, showers: nothing. No sound of pump running, no increase in the amount of water, all pipes dry. Cut a new inspection hatch(!) in the floor: nothing, bone dry (although I did find it somewhat diconcerting to watch him drilling holes in the floor of the boat). How can that much water find it's way in ,that quickly, without leaving any trace of it's source? It has to be something that filled up & tilted or something that "burst", under pressure maybe, but no trace. The worry is that it might do it again, but not stop this time and we might be out.

Then I broke a mug. Then I broke a bowl. Then the new cat flap to the office jammed (allows cats access to their food, but not the dogs). It's taken Big Ted a few days to learn to use it to get his food, so now we're back to square one & he's sitting in the food prep area of the galley (very hygenic!) shouting, "feed me, feed me" & boy can that cat shout! He's clearly tried to use it today when it was jammed and now, at time of writing, is refusing to have any more to do with it.

So, one way or another, the day was spent putting things right-even the dog's walk was thwarted, as the water was over the towpath & we had to give up. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Wind in twig's sail

G's final gesture before leaving the Marina was to wash the mud off his boots, leaving them nicely clean but also cold & wet on the outside; however, we're a bit out of practice at living out on the cut again and, having let Baxter out for a 7.00am pee, he left the cratch cover undone & dangling inside the boat - cratch covers make a fantastic funnel for filling boots with rain & snow! He doesn't have a spare pair!.

Ambled down on MR to collect the wood I'd put out the day before (delighted to find it hadn't been filched) & rooted about for more whilst himself tried to ram a way through into the old Brinklow arm (smelt the beer!). He says he was winding but, what the heck, we are now pointing the right way & we have logs again. More later we have visitors!

Loving this photo- a boat came past this morning, broke the ice & left an icy "sail" embedded on a floating, vertical, twig.
Back to this a.m. and visitors, 2 big labs my 2 Tibetans & 2 cats & a boat in chaos - will someone tell me how Greygal does it on a permanent basis, let alone how the mad woman is contemplating a 6th!!!!! Had a brill day today, my man set off with new GPS in search of geo cache & Joe, me & dogs in Pursuit. Got hopelessly lost, then found it, then found pub, then found by Lesley returning from Essex!! Nice relief after sorting out young lass who turned her car over in the ice on the back lane last night.

Monday 1 December 2008

Dirty Dash

Finished off most (but not all) of our "things to be done before we go" yesterday. Himself is still suffering with a spot of man flu & didn't feel up to moving on in the claggy cold. Woke this morning to glorious sunshine at last, walked the dogs & Daisy for an hour and then something snapped-returned to the boat & suggested we leave...NOW. Paused long enough to settle our electric bill, buy some coal & pump out. We haven't gone far & we're pointing the wrong way(!), but we're out. I don't like what we become when we stay in the Marina, we start watching TV indiscriminately, using the car instead of walking and, generally, taking everything for granted. So tonight we moored up to find we have no TV signal & thought we'd have to talk to each other, but Caxton's crew rang to say they were 150 yds away & did we fancy going to the pub-lucky escape: we can start clean living tomorrow (or maybe the day after).
Walked the dogs up, ahead of the boat, after mooring & sorted wood into position ready to put on the boat as we pass tomorrow-the next two days will be happily passed replenishing our wood supplies which will stop my withdrawal symptoms and, hopefully, start to reduce my thickening middle from 5 weeks of too easy living.

Saturday 29 November 2008

On the road again....well nearly

Given that we ended up lurking in Brinklow Marina for a lot longer than we intended and we're into the worst part of winter for me (shortest days); it hasn't been at all bad. The marina community is good fun & we've made new friends & re-connected with some old ones - some are here permanently, some temporarily & some have been found on the cut locally whilst we were out with the dogs (you can run but you can't hide!). This is beautiful countryside for walking in and, in particular, glorious woodlands. Rugby itself still has a lot of independant shops, including an "Arkright" style hardware store(Cox's Corner Shop) where we purchased 4 machine screws (for our new, lockable filler cap) and a length of rope. I had been wanting some multi-coloured mosaic tiles for splashbacks & I thought I would struggle to find them -we went into "Miles Of Tiles" today & there must have been over 100 to choose from which matched my criteria alone. Literally spoilt for choice. So all relatives have been visited, friends have been supped with, the little car has been MOT'd & sold, the boat has been safety checked & serviced and the boiler repaired & bailed out (yes it was flooded). So it just remains for one last food & drink replenishment & then we're on the road again.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Days out with Floyd & Fletcher

yesterday Uncles' Floyd & Fletcher took us to this brilliant park & taught me to find & chase rabbits & squirrels; Floyd is best at this but Fletcher is best at sticks & swimming. Sometimes I manage to get the stick, 'cause I can nip underneath & Floyd tries to drown Fletcher so that they're not concentrating. Baxter was a bit boring until the adults found a playground & then he perked up no end & was the only one allowed on the swing which wasn't fair. On the way home, we all had to sleep in the back of the car whilst they went up the pub for lunch but there was just about enough room if we all breathed in. Jill isn't doing much on the blog 'cause she says her cnexions scrap (whatever that means) & she' still waiting for the pics to load. Haven't moved home in nearly 4 weeks but we're finding lots of lovely walks - things keep happening but we WILL move soon. Love, Muttley.

PS if there's no blog on here-try NB Caxton!!

Friday 14 November 2008

No animals were harmed during the making of this movie

Whilst I was back in Norfolk, Graham had been desribing the canine capers between Caxton's crew & ours. I'd only been back 30 mins yesterday when I had the chance to witness this for myself. Above is a short clip of Floyd trying to drown Fletcher (I think that's the right way round) with Muttley stood by waiting for the ball to escape (it does sometimes).

Setting out for our first walk with all of us together, I found that the adult crew were easily trained too....note how Lesley is carrying poo bags and Joe is carrying my wood!

By the time we returned to the marina the sun was setting & then Muttley went to bed & slept & slept & slept.

Monday 10 November 2008

Stalking Caxton (larder envy)

Caxton arrived at Brinklow today & I controlled myself for a few hours before bashing on the roof - oooooooh I want that larder. Greygal commented about Lesley having spare storage & some empty cupboards & that didn't really sink in on paper (or screen), but when you actually SEE empty cupboards in the flesh (as it were) it's pretty amazing. We didn't have anywhere near enough time but I think we are all determined to catch up more thoroughly when I get back from Norfolk & we seem to be heading in the same direction to dodge stoppages between now & the dreaded "C" (oh how I hate it - Xmas I mean). Arrived back at our boat & looked at the pile of my painting stuff (which still has no home) & is now attracting more junk on a daily basis-boxes of beer & bottles of wine (no home - 'cept my tummy) "mantlepiece" covered in manky gloves & dog combs (do have homes, but can't be bothered 'cause used daily)and felt a bit depressed, but only for a weeny while 'cause Graham had made bread & cooked roast duck with all the trimmings. I find this lifestyle is not really synonomous with any prolonged depression and this is November; not a very good month for me normally, I would prefer to hibernate from clock change to middle of Jan - so far so very much better!
At this point I was going to pull up pictures of everybody crashed out round the fire, but my connection is crap again & I can't be bothered to wrestle with it. I think Graham has custody of the 'puter while I'm in Norfolk so you'll be high tech or silent for the next few days.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Bad Influences

The recent lack of discipline experienced amongst the canine crew of Matilda Rose appears to be spreading to the humans as well since returning from Norfolk. Having consumed far more wine than is good for us on Friday (with the guys from NB Spirit), we decided to delay our departure for a further day so we could indulge in more decadence with Debbie & Mark from NB Marquis last night (ooooh! aren't we becoming the cut's little social party animals). Debbie nobly drove us to The Raven in Brinklow (we've never been into the village before-normally in the Marina for a reason & then gone again) where a few pints of the real stuff & vast quantities of yacking were much enjoyed - by the time we left we weren't even vaguely yacked out so returned to MR for further yo ho ho & a bottle of (their!) rum where Muttley behaved like a complete tart with Mark. I think we finally got to bed about 4.00am!!!!!!!!!!! (not a lot in common). We woke up rather poorly bunnies this am - I can still party but my recovery time is not what it used to be. Funny how both Spirit & Marquis were last met at Cropredy, but in different months. Anyway, delaying our departure for social reasons has turned out to be all for the better because I now have to go back to mum's again Tuesday to cover unexpected hospital stuff. This also means that Lesley & Joe on NB Caxton will definitely be here by the time we leave probably next weekend now - Greygal has already checked Caxton out so the precedent has been set (did you think you only had one stalker Lesley?).

Hearing me moan to both James & Debbie that my MEGA regret in boat choice was that I have no area where I can get away from Graham's noise (his noise, not himself-MOSTLY TV noise) he FINALLY went and bought some wireless headphones for the TV today! He's using them & watching the footy whilst I'm typing this posting & it has more impact than you would think. Firstly I am sat in my armchair by the fire and am, for once, way too hot (I normally sit up the corner to read which is the furthest point I can get from the telly but still sit down & it's not that warm under the side hatch). Secondly, knowing he's on the boat but that there is no noise, I have to keep checking that he's still breathing & not died - so now, every 10 minutes he keeps saying, "I'm still here" I don't know which is most annoying grrrrr!

We've always loved our food but neither of us had come across one of these before it's clearly related to the boring old cauli & exactly the same price; it's called a Romanesque (I think that's how it's spelt) & is way to beautiful to eat so we bought it, photagraphed it & then ate it anyway (jolly nice it was too - sort of nutty and like a mild Brussels Sprout).

Daisy has just given up on the weather & is constantly burrowing into warm dark places & generally hibernating - she's only bought us 3 mice in 2 days.

Friday 7 November 2008

Baxter & Muttley wish to apologise.......

3 whole days spent back in the "other "world showed us just how unfit we all are for "proper" company. I had made a note to myself that I wasn't to wave & talk to people & I'd warned the dogs to expect leads & the cats that they were not to help themselves to people's bricks & mortar. Started off at Kevin & 'shell's reasonably OK except both dogs dived on the sofa & then muddy Muttley deposited himself on 'shells lap after bouncing on Socks (their cat). Daisy left muddy paw prints over my mums neighbours work surface on Tuesday but managed to escape further embarassment Tues night by going out to dinner with Pete & Sally. Weds we went over to Lesley & Graham's for dinner & had their totally,to die for paella. wether or not itwas 'cause they were fed up with being on their best behaviour (not really) or because they were reunited with their lovely sailing Jack Russell mate, Bonnie, or Bonnies 3 cat friends I don't know but something went very wrong! Having turned over the bin, jumped on the kitchen work surfaces & barked at the cats, Mutley peed up the fireplace. It is a very, very good job that we are really really good mates. I also broke the rules at the hospital on Tuesday by chatting (I know I said I wouldn't) to a lovely lady, similarly half dressed, in the x-ray dept about the boat they'd bought, restored, and lived on on the broads many years ago.
Arrived back at the Marina Thurs eve to bump straight into James from NB Spirit-Dougiehad gone to fetch their motor home & they are leaving their boat here for a bit over winter. Isn't it always the way - I recognised their dog Oscar first. We hadn't seen them since Julyish on the Oxford. Have had a few glasses & caught up a little tonight but they are off tomorrow. Whilst chatting to James & trying to catch up yesterday eve & unloading car & unloading cats,poor Ted hit the nearest warm boat (which was Pete's, up a bit) & got himself stuck on the waterside gunnel. Bless you Pete for coming to find me even after he panicked & scratched you - so nice to be back in a world that understands us, but I think Muttley needs retraining at a correctional institution- I was seriously mortified!

Tuesday 4 November 2008


Those damned narrowboats, I thought their max speed was only 4mph, Bahhhh. I said Baahhhh no not Bath!

Saturday 1 November 2008


Decided to make myself scarce whilst the engineer was here on Tuesday & set off to Rugby Tescos-I've only driven this car a few times & that was many months ago (himself decided to sell the automatic and buy a car with 6 forward gears). Found my way there & dutifully trogged round doing a major shop (it's so much less tedious having it delivered direct to the boat), proffered my card to pay for it only to have the card declined. I don't know why I didn't destroy the cloned card, but I didn't, and I picked it up instead of the new one! Having no other means of paying, I left everything there except the hot chicken for dinner - I had just enough cash on me to pay for that. Leaving the store a very unhappy bunny, it was not only dark but chucking it down with snow - all the markings in the car park were obliterated and I ended up in amongst the delivery lorries before I, eventually, found the exit. I arrived back at the boat 2 and a half hours later, freezing and miserable with only a (now cold) chicken for my efforts. Fortunately, for once in his life, Graham new when to keep his mouth shut - or maybe he was just so overcome with joy that his baby passed her first test - & dutifully returned to Tesco to fetch the shopping; whilst I recovered with a glass or two of vino. A timely warning that the "other" world we are venturing back into tomorrow is a dangerous and scary place. I must also remember not to wave, say hello & generally chat to perfect strangers.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

BSC complete... Yeahhhhh.

Yesterday, Matilda Rose passed her 1st BSC with flying colours, no adverse comments and done by a gentlemen who was very thorough and fair, if you need a good examiner who gives you absolute confidence then contact Nigel Smith from the Ashby Narrowboat company, Stoke Golding. We have also had our engine and Electrical check carried out by River Canal Rescue, James was also superb and commented on the well looked after Engine, thank you James. Lastly we had a problem with out Harworth boiler and that was sorted by another James, a one man band boat engineer who knew his cherries and we now have another source of heat and hot water, Thank you James.

We are now only a couple of days away from having to leave MR for a few days whilst we visit rels and friends in Norfolk, but then we will be closer to our return and a trip down the Grand Union to London, Jill wants to visit Little Venice but with the closures due in January it may be a little ambitious this time, we shall see!

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Back at Brinklow

Arrived back at Brinklow in strong wind, and therefore, our usual dramatic fashion! The wind lashes across as you turn in & the prevailing wind is away from our pontoon so our arrival is always a bit nerve racking - anyway, no damage done. Daisy has been doing her best to catch up with the removal of all rodents, which have had a fairly cushy time since we were last here at the beginning of June. I'm sitting doing this blog whilst waiting for the guy to come & do MR's 1st BSC - we've done everything we can think of and given her a good clean so all we can do now is wait and see. Although it's lovely to have unlimited water & know that every shower will be hot and that you can jump in the car & get a pint of milk etc.: but it does take the adventure out of life & I always feel that our "proper" life is on hold until we get moving again. Anyway, it has to be done and it's nice to catch up with the family whilst we have the car - by the time we've spent a few days in Norfolk - it'll be around the 6th before we leave, but want to catch up with Caxton & Lady Hester first (the latter left the day before we came back-somebody obviously warned them of our arrival).

Baxter's food tastes are becoming quite sophisticated - having taught Muttley how to pick his own blackberries, we then found him eating cooking apples under the tree at Bascote lock! Fortunately his stomach survived the experience and, this time, Muttley didn't copy him so we are starting to have a little more confidence about leaving Muttley's muzzle off; could he be growing out of his eating disorder at last? Sadly, he still has to wear it around the immediate confines of the boat because of all the corpses & part corpses bought home by Daisy-he still finds these utterly irresistable - leading to, yet another, trip to the vets! This may well be the last blog for a bit because no-one wants to look at photos of Tesco etc-still, pictures of the sea next week might make a change.

Thursday 23 October 2008

To share or not to share?

It's always nice to think, when approaching a big flight of double locks, that it would be nice to share the locks & your day with another boat (like we did with Brian & the gang through the Stocktons & the Hattons). However, if you are not sharing with kindred spirits it is often way better to be on your own; the trouble is, by the time you've realised that there are "irreconcilable differences," how do you get out of the situation? "You go on, we need to stop for water" and "you go on, we have something wrapped round our prop," are invariably met with, "no worries, we'll wait & have a brew" or "we'll stay & help". Because, 99.99999% of boaters are lovely; but not always compatible!. I'm more than willing to do my share of the far sides of locks (heavier due to less usage & if only one gate has to be closed it's that one), but it really stresses the dogs out when we are separated from them lock after lock, & then they try to cross the gates which freaks us out. So...for the record.... I do not do locks in ANY kind of a rush & I don't do locks with people who don't take their share of the far side (for whatever reason -vertigo, tinatus, etc). Don't ask, I aint dancing!
Today we came up the Stockton flight with some great guys, Dave & Carol on Bronnington, waved farewell at the top of the flight &, about 40 minutes later hit the last 3 locks with the wind howling across the Marina-some poor chap broken down on the lock moorings (right where everyone coming round the bend bashed into him) doing everything he could to help both Barry & Bonnie on Audierne & us get into the lock - neither of us could have managed it without his help. The weather went from fine to scary in moments. Moored at the first opportunity!
I have a feeling I still won't have enough signal to load photos - but at least we have a connection tonight.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Last few days since leaving the Hatton flight have been quiet but interesting, We had a night out on Friday in the Cape of Good Hope pub (locally known as the Cape of good Dope!) in Warwick, had a good meal and were in a prime position to sit and listen to a band who played 60s and 70s music, they were good, PJK Pees I think they were called, worth seeing if your in the area. However we did leave at the 1st interval (about an hours playing) as we didn't want to have to cross the lock in darkness and a little worse for ware, rumour has it that he has lost atleast one customer this way!!!

Moved on out of Warwick and Leamington Spa to give the animals a chance to have a good run, and also a chance for Baxter to have a change of diet! See above.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Statistical Interpretation!

Because, for various aforementioned reasons, we have been cruising up & down the Stratford for just over 3 weeks, but also to ease my conscience & cost justify the purchase of the extremely expensive boots; I worked out a few statistics which, I thought, were rather impressive:-
In 23 days we operated 4 lift bridges & 144 locks, whilst travelling 72 miles - I travelled on the boat 22 miles, walking all the rest plus, of course, running up to set the next lock & running back to close gates behind MR where necessary & dog walking on non-cruising days. When I imparted this info to Graham it took him about 3 seconds to calculate that it worked out at about 2 miles a day, "oh" he added as an afterthought, "and 6 locks". Oh well, I certainly wore Muttley out. I wonder if I should try working out how many HOURS I spent walking.......
The purchase of the boots has also presented me with another dilemma. We have a rather important "boat" rule - if you bring something new onto the boat, something of a similar size has to go off. I've always enjoyed this one as it's never applied to ME before. I've now convinced him that this rule can be bent because it makes sense to keep a spare pair of boots in case I fall in - boots can't be dried out overnight in winter. However I now have a spare & an heir & even I can't justify keeping 3 pairs, so what shall I do? Do I bin a brand new pare of Gortex boots that slip & rub my ankles or do I bin my trusty friends that leak?

I also have to make a confession: as you probably gathered that wasn't a photo of my log pile (I wish). Tesco boxes and cratches don't lend themselves to such log "walling" perfection. I have now been banned from any further log collections as the cratch is full and the weight on the roof is in danger of de-stabilising the boat. I saw some smashing branches whilst out with the dogs today-oh well, cold turkey it is (for a week or so anyway).

Still moored up at, what we call, the picnic site South of Bridge 62 on the embankment on the Grand Union-will move on tomorrow or Friday; Friday might give us a better chance of finding someone to lock down the Hatton with, given the time of year.

Monday 13 October 2008

Neeewwwww Boots !

Since moving onto the boat I have virtually lived in my walking boots (let's face it-few of us had the weather for anything else) from morning until dinner time - these are of the leather variety and I have owned them for around 25 years. More friends than boots; we have travelled together through the white peaks, dark peaks, brecons...yeah, you get the picture. For some time I have been eyeing the rusting eyelets nervously and wondering whether a good cobbler (if cobblers still exist) would replace them. For about a week, I started to notice my feet were getting wet, which was odd, and then I realised why-the uppers completely separated from the soles & did their own personal "Mammy" impression. Despite his efforts with the superglue these boots will never be waterproof again.
In a panic I bought a pair on the net & had them delivered to the friends that were visiting the following weekend - boots were absolutely rigid around the ankle &, worse still, had nowhere near enough grip: coming very close to depositing me feet first (under heavy bottom gates) into the cut whilst locking down the Lapworth in the wet.
Whilst in Stratford , the first time , I noticed that my beloved "Ecco" shoe company (sooooo....... comfy) was now doing proper walking boots-so given that we had to go back to Stratford again ........
I am now the proud owner of the most gorgeously comfy Yak hide & Gortex boots. Environmentally sustainable Yaks? Don't know, don't care, but I have very, very sustainable & happy feet.
Walked thelast 2 miles & 9 locks back onto the Grand Union in a trice!

Saturday 11 October 2008

Time to move on

I'm trying to get over this wood thing, but I just had to sneak in one photo - pretty yeah?

Particularly sad our friends couldn't be here as the weather this weekend has to be some of the best we've seen all year. We came down to Wootton Wawen after finding out that they couldn't come because, on enquiring with the bank why our card was refused for a Tesco order, we discovered that it had been cloned & was being used up North -the bank had picked it up immediately and cancelled the card. Therefore had to hang around until they sent through new cards/accounts to the Stratford branch. Went in by bus to Stratford today - neither of us could remember when we were last on a bus - to collect new cards. Bit chaotic as a fair on in the town centre & we had to swap buses on the way back (not at all sure why). Anyway, all sorted, thanks to good old Nationwide so back on our travels tomorrow. Have been looking at winter travels & stoppages & think we might head down towards London on the Grand Union after sorting out the BSC at Rugby & a, slightly dramatic, problem with the central heating boiler - LOADS of wood, so no problem! Only one last job to be done in this neck of the woods - a delivery of dog food at Lowsonford.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Both NBs Debdale & Granny Buttons have commented recently that they hadn't connected our boat with our blog - the former being Matilda Rose & the latter being Contented Souls. The simple reason for this is that Graham started the blog when we exchanged contracts on the sale of our home & business &, although he had emotionally purchased MR, it would have looked more than a little presumptious to name the blog accordingly when:
a) I hadn't seen her
b) No financial approach had been made to her owners
c) She hadn't been surveyed
20ish years ago we had a 22ft Norman at the top of the Thames called Contented Sole II (sadly, she blew up & sank - but that's a different story!) so we adapted her name for this blog in anticipation of our hoped for state of mind in our new lifestyle.
Talking of, "state of mind" I am beginning to suffer from a serious case of OCD with regard to wood. When I said we finished chopping and sorting wood, what I didn't say was what I(he's not to blame) had sorted it into! I now have sections for lighting (dried leaves & stalks etc); kindling (up to 1"); early stage (about 1/2" in diameter); quick burn (Leylandi etc); slow burn (dense wood like Hawthorn) and wet (to smoke out any annoying neighbours-although we haven't had any YET). Up to now, he's treated this growing obsession with mild, albeit slightly patronising, humour-but when I went to take photos of each section for the blog, I could tell by the look on his face that I've gone a bit too far. I'll have the last laugh when winter sets in big time!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Perfect Day

Days don't really, for me, get any better than today. Beautiful, hot, sunny day - always to be cherished in October (especially this year). Little bit of a lie in - just while Graham perked up the fire & made tea - wandered off with the dogs & nattered to some really lovely people; pulled a bit of a scam with a lady at a lock to buy more talking time -she only half opened one paddle so we could finish our exchange of info. Her husband enquired over the radio if there was a problem, "no dear" she replied, "it's just slow emptying". I stayed to help her open the gate & then ran back to our boat & was innocently stacking logs when her husband came past! (Thanks for the towel tips). Had a huge cooked breakfast at 2.oop &, generally, spent all day in the sun finishing off the sorting of our wood & getting it all chopped & organised.

We're back on the South Stratford again to take on a food delivery & pick up friends for 4 days - but one of them is VERY poorly & they can't come; we're really gutted 'cause we haven't seen them since May. I hope you soon feel loads better.

Having decided to come back down anyway, & after a day in the rain walking for 6 hours & doing 25 locks, we decided to go to the Fleur-de Lys pub for dinner. Graham's chicken looked & tasted like shoe leather crossed with a plastic duck, when we sent it back they replaced it with a perfectly OK duck breast. Only after I started to reach the pastry edges of my pie did I realise that, that too, was case hardened & he said he'd fetch the manager & the manager couldn't be bothered & blur de blur de blur....Boring, but so often the case & it really p's me off. Miss this one; visit the Bluebell Cider House instead. So, one way & another, we particularly enjoyed our lovely day after all yesterday's disapointments. Big Ted particularly enjoyed the sun on his old bones.