Friday 28 February 2014

Boatswain's (dog) chair

On Wednesday we were just moving down the remaining 5 locks when a share boat came up passed us leaving all double top gates open. Very nice for us, but wouldn't have been at all amusing had it been a single hander coming up!

Given the dogs in this pic it was, clearly, one that I took at the weekend when Sue and I noticed that the bins had been moved from the service point here, up to the 2nd lock up (19). The problem with that is that they are still on the same bank which can only be reached by boat from within the lock. Needless to say we had loads of rubbish to dispose of and as soon as we entered lock 19 a boater appeared who was waiting to come up - only the 2nd moving boat we saw all day - but they were happy to wait whilst we off-loaded. They also commented on the fact that it was amazing how happy our cat was trotting down the gunwales as the boat went down in the lock. Whaaaat!!!!!? Who let the cat out?

C & RT advised that the bin movement was a temporary measure due to earlier flooding by the River Tove which had 'stranded' them, at their normal site. Excellent; but they do need moving back again.

So, by the time we walked the dogs back up to the pub for a pint, that was Wednesday pretty much gone although G started making a template for a doggy boatswain's chair whilst I cracked on with dinner. There may well be some high sided moorings in Europe (especially Holland we're told) and we need something to oik them out with. Particularly as Baxter's back legs are, sadly, starting to show those dreaded tell-tale signs of old age
I've just realised that Muttley appears to have filled a large nappy (above). He would like you to know that he hasn't and wishes to file a complaint of deformation of character and abject humiliation with the RSPCA
Baxter was so patient bless him. The rough template and engineering drawings have been posted off to Sue's daughter Wendie today to be professionally made up in a soft canvas. G has designed it so that one size will fit most dogs. I'll show you the finished article in due course.
Should one of them file a patent; let's wait and see?

Thursday 27 February 2014

Collecting the problems

Sorry, I meant we collected No Problem's crew on Friday morning from Hillmorton Locks and loaded them all up to take back to MR for a long weekend. Via, of course, the Nether Heford butcher and the Bugbrooke pet shop.

Sue auditions for the open mic night later on on Friday evening whilst Vic 'turns' the music
 Not one of us remembered to take a proper camera to the gig - so this pic is all I have (probably just as well) and G did a great job with the band until the early hours of the morning.
 When we, eventually, returned to MR G broke the fire glass so we had no overnight heat and the airbed covering Sue and Vics bed collapsed during the night, so they kept rolling into the middle (likely story, but I'll believe them). Neither incident drove them ou put them off so we replaced the glass, re-lit the fire and fixed their bed!
When we arrived at Stoke Bruerne we moored on the '2 day' mooring by the tunnel and I met the warden who told us not to worry about moving until Monday as there was no-one else about. On Saturday morning, a different warden with a snotty attitude and letter chucked a, "you've got to move tomorrow" message into our bacon and eggs. Charming!
So Sunday morning we moved down 2 locks onto the 2 day/7 day (14 in winter) to find all the available mooring taken up by fisherman having a match

You can imagine how delighted to see 66 foot of MR arriving can't you?
 Fortunately the boat behind moved back and we sort of stuffed ourselves in - quite tricky in the strong wind. So we continued with the Sunday dinner after a pint. 
Well done Graham - excellent as always
Baxter managed to grab 'his' chair back when Sue lent forward to stroke Penny. I have to say all four dogs and the cat behaved impeccably - shame about the 4 adults
 So in the summer you have 3 moorings for 7 days below the first two locks and the bulk are 2 day as per above the top lock
 Below all 7 locks ALL YEAR round you have 2 day and then way down even further where this boat is it is 14 days. Not surprising that Stoke Bruerne is empty and the businesses are complaining -whilst boaters themselves might not contribute hugely; it is their presence that (used to) bring in the gongoozlers
We had a brilliant time and, as always in their company, spent most of the week-end in fits of giggles. 

Wednesday 26 February 2014

OK. Now to sort this blog out

Often in the winter there is little to blog about but, all of a sudden, there is almost too much; it's the old adage either no time or nothing to say.

Going back now to a week last Monday we went into Abington (outskirts of Northampton) to get the menagerie passported. The only requirements now are ID chips, rabies vaccinations and paperwork to verify it; we've checked this with DEFRA. The info was acquired and rabies jab administered but we couldn't go further as the vet didn't think the passports could be issued without proof of current GB routine inoculations. I advised him that they were irrelevant to issue of EU passports. He said he didn't think so but would check with DEFRA. Which he did and we picked up the passports this Monday!
Another box ticked off the frantic 'to do list'.

Last Tuesday I rang Sue (No Problem) to see if we could drive over and help eat their Sunday dinner. I mentioned that the New Years eve gang of 4 boats were meeting up at Stoke Bruerne for a musical gig on Friday and G would be giving his virgin performance so I/she invited themselves over for the weekend.

We'd previously arranged for Mike and Sonia to spend the day with us on Thursday, so the rest of Tuesday was spent on a frantic shopping mission (I don't know what we'd have done without the car these last 3 weeks.

Wednesday was spent cooking and cleaning to get as far ahead of the catering game as possible - sometimes I wonder if we'd ever get properly clean and tidy without visitors!

Now Mike and Sonia particularly wanted to go through Blisworth Tunnel, so that was Thursday's mission and they met G at Stoke Bruerne leaving a car there and driving back to MR where we were  moored at Bugbrooke. The weather forecast was appalling but it was quite nice by the time we stopped at Gayton for water and some lunch.

I did my usual trick through tunnels - hiding my head under the duvet - leaving the three of them on the back suitably togged up. Now that has never been the driest of tunnels and, with the ground saturation levels as they are, I thought they would be in for an interesting time!!!
No apologies for repeating this photo whilst they were still nice and dry.
As we entered the tunnel I (being further up front on the boat) heard the first deluge of water hit the boat and counted to around 4 seconds before it hit the three musketeers exposed on the back - you should have heard them yelp! Somewhere around the 5th time they got hit, and after they'd followed G's suggestion that they look up through the breather hole they'd got quite noisy although they still had grins on their faces when we came out the other end.

Time for a dog walk and a pint at The Boat (after recovering a car) and a fabulous early dinner at the Spice of Bruerne which was packed before 7.30 pm on a Thursday evening. An absolutely fabulous day and time for an early night for us with more visitors in the morning and a very late night on the cards

Thanks for coming all that way guys - enjoyed your company as always.

Just before I leave you tonight I want to chuck up a few of my photos from my 'new policy' of village, mud free-ish, walks. I love Bugbrooke village although the moorings aren't very exciting scenically.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Look who we have

Sorry been busy

We will catch up but we've been having too much fun - loads of lovely visitors

Sunday 16 February 2014

My IT dept is home again

So he's managed to recover some of my pictures from around urban Weedon Bec. This is the River Nene - can't believe it gets big, wild, and woolly enough to be navigable just 6 miles ish up the road in Northampton
 It flows under the canal
 after coming out from under the railway line
 and the little wedge of land between the two contains the church, allotments and Weedon Bec's Pocket Park - I love it in here. Rarely a soul to be seen
 and these are some of the 'urban' paths that run through the new builds. The hedge behind Baxter is original layer hedging from when this was farmland - now as thick as tree trunks but domestic fencing behind it now renders it superfluous
 all of this makes for good, dry, off-lead walking
 right through the middle of the village
 Baxter has been stripped out now - it's off to the vet for all three tomorrow - passports required with only 8 weeks to go now (maths was a bit up the creek the other day)

Saturday 15 February 2014

It was meant to be tongue in cheek

But what a brilliant load of help and advice I received from so many of you from the last blog. Not just the comments but an amazingly knowledgeable e-mail from June in Germany. So thank you all.

 On a completely different subject I have discovered a better way to walk the dogs in the current climate - pick a village that has been extended by new housing and you will find that the original footpaths still exist but are paved - no mud.

At this point I was going to load some pictures, but the whole picture thing seems to have crashed - hopefully normal service will resume tomorrow when my IT Dept gets home!

Wednesday 12 February 2014

I could do with some help

It's just under 11 weeks now before we shift to Europe so, now I'm running out of time, I feel I should address the fundamental issue of a foreign language. We did set ourselves the goal of trying to conjugate 2 new verbs each week - am I boring you? It bored me. So I wonder if learning specific practical stuff would be more useful.

So how about learning sentences like:
When does the * open?
    ... then I could learn to insert "lock", "butcher", "chandler" etc
Where is the nearest * ?
    ... can you see where I'm going with this?
How though am I going to understand the answers?

So any contributions would be very welcome ... you give it some thought whilst I nip off down the pub for a pint of Doombar. I've discovered a really lovely pub in Weedon Bec

Thoroughly recommend it and it's very dog friendly.

Monday 10 February 2014

A jumble sale?

Well it's time to sort out the unnecessary 'stuff', cupboard by cupboard. I was going to hit the main china and crocks but G got in first with the well deck drawers - mostly being outdoor gear; small clothing and  boat cleaning/polishing stuff. So what have we got in this heap then?
 We have ten scarves
 Eighteen hats
 and eighteen pairs of gloves plus two singles and two more  pairs of good sailing gloves that I can't find at the moment
 So which are my star performers? The first has to be my lovely hat made by Karen's (NB Tacet) own fair hand - there are a very few privileged lady boaters that own one of these 
The gloves award goes to the softest of leather with padded palms fingerless gloves purchased for £5 in Camden Market. The best ever locking/roping gloves 
 The scarf award has to go to my Alpaca; short, open weave, but utterly brilliantly soft and warm - obtainable from the brilliant people at Whilton Marina on the GU who have their own herd
 How much did we keep? That's for us to know and you to wonder

Sunday 9 February 2014

There are so many bad things happening at the moment

Not just the desperate weather, but so many poorly bloggers and/or bloggers undergoing tests. So, by contrast, I thought I'd try and raise a smile by telling of the three really stupid things I've done in this last week.

Now I did mention how I did a 4 mile round trip through the mud to the butcher at South Kilworth to pick up my 'special' bacon. I pre-ordered this bacon on the 'phone for 5 x 250g packs of wafer thin smoked streaky, vacuum packed (keeps for ages in the fridge). Did I check it when I handed over the money? No.
Opening the first pack for breakfast this week I discovered that, not only was it in chunks about 6mm thick (yuk!), it was in unsealed poly bags - not even a red sticky seal round the top.
I feel there may be a lot of bacon lardon and lentil soup happening on MR now.

My next star turn was untying the front of MR from a nappy/safety pin on arnco. Now I have spent many an angry minute trying to get those pins off where they jam firmly and refuse to let go. Thursday I pulled the rope out and watched the pin make a bid for freedom into the murky depths of the canal. Eventually rescued with the sea search magnet and a lot of bad language.

However, my absolute idiocy this week was to receive a new debit card from the bank and cut up my credit card - so now I'm waiting for a new credit card! Those of you, like me, without a letter box know just how much hassle is involved in such an operation.

I blame it on my age

Saturday 8 February 2014

Trapped for a bit

All this rain is finally catching up with the canal system. I guess it had to happen.

Having cleared the Buckby flight before the stoppages a week tomorrow, we learnt today that the Stoke Bruerne flight has been closed due to excess water levels. Also further down the Grand Union at Marsworth and the Aylesbury Arm.

We did a massive cruise today; crossing from one side of the canal to the other and reversing back 200 yards. There were 3 reasons for this - a greyhound was wandering around off lead and without an owner in appearance (meant we had to keep Daisy in); we couldn't stop the chine bashing against the concrete side (Shroppie ledge style) and it was dryer on the other bank.

Heard from June and Mike on NB Temujin in Germany last night - they have 7" of ice. Looks like we're all sitting it out for one reason or another. This has been a funny old winter - tragic for many; mild isn't always good it would seem.

Friday 7 February 2014

Every cloud (or mooring) ...

.... has a silver lining.

Having moored at the bottom of the Buckby flight last night (which we'd never done before)
 we found ourselves between a rock
 and a hard place
Sandwiched between the M1 and the Birmingham/London (I think) railway line and with no TV or radio signal.

However, the chandler sells chocolate and beer and the cafe does a seriously good breakfast. The chandlery also had our specially ordered counter terrorism Paniche fortification extra long pins and chains ready and waiting for us
Hopefully these will stop us being yanked out of our moorings amongst the big guys in Europe

These are the photos I didn't take yesterday of the water coming down the Buckby flight

A beautifully sunny day today and we cruised on to Weedon Bec after the afore mentioned excellent breakfast and a stop for shopping at the Heart of the Shires 'mall' (where I went mad and purchased one of those twirly honey stick thingys)  and some eggs from Be-dazzled - the best in the country by my reckoning

Ooh; whilst out shopping we spotted this small pink dog sofa which we thought The Manly Ferry's (NB Caxton) dog Bombo might rather like
A snip Elaine at just £169!