Hi I am Jo…wife, lover, best friend and soulmate to Keith. Lover of all things to do with nature and the canals. I am passionate about the Waterways and its history.
I hope you will join me in my rambles and do please comment – I love to hear from and meet new people in blogland!
Monday, 31 October 2011
Late yesterday afternoon we had a visit from Alan Brown, who is a mind of information on historic boats, and despite being in his 80's is still out and about looking at old boats, he has been to see us a couple of times because of the old engine. Ohhhh dark nights have arrived with the changing of the clocks at the weekend, it will take a take a few days to become accustom to the difference. Poor old Paddy is already confused. Unlike at the spring change where suddenly his dinner and walks are an hour early, to have them an hour later this time of year is very confusing for him, he was ready for his walk an hour early and could not understand why Keith was not up and ready also.
This morning yet again we were awake way to early, but this time marmite was not up with the larks, she was to busy watching the bird life out of the port hole in the engine room.
We were up and ready to set off down the flight of locks by 8.20am, we were fortunate that the shared ownership NB Slipstream was moored behind us overnight and they wanted to share locks, which was great, no having to wait for someone to turn up. So with Roger, Colin and Brian we set off down the flight, they were an absolute joy to share with and made the cruise down a pleasure.
We soon had the locks dealt with, so we said our goodbyes to the guys, who were heading off to wind. I then walked on down the towpath and found a mooring just past Butcher’s Bridge, where Keith pulled in and we moored up behind Aldgate. Whilst we were mooring up Maffi and Molly arrived, so I made coffee and tea for the 3 of us, and we chatted and put the world to rights once again. We then locked up the boat and headed for Midland Chandlers to pick up a few bits and pieces, and on our way back popped into Tony Redshaw’s to pick up some green paint for the engine.
Since being back at the boat I had put some Braising Steak in the oven to cook hopefully for dinner tonight. I then made us some Mushrooms on Toast for lunch. Not sure what I will be doing for the rest of the day, but I have a feeling it will be very little. Chat soon xx
Sunday, 30 October 2011
The clocks went back
Did you remember?
We remembered to put the back cabin clock back, so it was with some annoyance that we should be awake at 5.40am grrrrr. Marmite on the other hand or should I say paw, was very happy to find us awake, because she was in the mood to play. It had more to do with the fact that her food bowls were empty, as she had obviously had a midnight food party, with only one cat invited. With the thought of us now being wake and up so early, I made us both a brew, Marmite saw this as a sign that she was going to get fed. No chance.
As I sat in bed drinking my very early cuppa, the sound of silence was almost deafening, until a lone Blackbird sounded an alarm call, Marmite's ears immediately pricked up, she clearly had breakfast in mind, not that she has ever caught a bird in her life, but I guess it is just an natural instinct in cats. Again the Blackbird let out a call, warning that there was something on the prowl. Maybe my bird feeders, that I put out yesterday were getting some early visitors. The silence outside was soon restored and Marmite's attention was drawn to the wood bucket, which she leapt into with gusto. I could see that she clearly has mischief on her mind, this then alerted Paddy to the fact that something was amiss, so he was then up and stretching in his bed, all of this before 6.15am or 7.15am if you forgot to put your clock back. So there was I wide awake pondering whether to get up or not. The latter won, and I snuggled back down in bed with the other half, which annoyed Marmite some, because she was beginning to realise that no matter what she did to get my attention it, was not working. Keith had a wrestling match with her in the bed, before I crawled out of bed to get dressed, because Paddy was now thinking it was 8.30am and he should be walked, after all a dog can only cross its legs for so long. Dressed and off the boat, this time we walked down the locks, where we met a couple of ladies walking their dogs. Nice to know others were out and about early.
As Paddy and I walked, Keith prepared a cooked breakfast, which as always was scrummy and just what was called for on an early Sunday morning. It is now 9.15am, the generator is charging the batteries for the day, Marmite is looking out of the galley window across the canal, Paddy is snoozing in his bed and all is well with my world on this Sunday morning, which reminds me it is the end of the British Summer today, so if you have not got out your thermals yet, I suggest you do so and put away your shorts and t-shirts for another year. Not sure what the day will bring, but I am off to enjoy a coffee, then I will think about the rest of my day. Chat soon xx
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Yet another day of having a very poor GPRS signal, so no photographs sorry.
On waking up early this morning, it was apparent that we were leaning at a jaunty angle, so Keith got up and let the stern rope off a little to allow us to level up, I riddled the old ash out of the fire and got it going again, the kettle was soon singing a merry tune. Whilst Keith was up he made us a cup of tea, which we enjoyed huddled in bed where it was nice and cosy. The birds were just beginning to sing, at first I a Robin began singing and then a Wren joined in and before we knew it, the dawn chorus was in full swing. Marmite had slept on the bed most of the night, but now that the stove was warming up, she abandoned the bed for the side bed and my fleece. I could hear Paddy stirring in his bed, which could only mean one thing, he wanted to go out. So having enjoyed my cuppa, I was up and dress and out the back cabin doors with him on the towpath. We walked up to the tunnel, whilst Paddy did what he needed to do, I listened to the bird song and to the Crows squabbling over something in the field across the cut. We only had one other boat moored up with us over night, and they were also getting up because I could hear the fire being stoked. We had enjoyed a very quiet night above the locks, but the day would prove to be much more hectic.
After breakfast, it was time to get a few things done. Keith painted the engine exhaust in the engine room with White matt paint, whilst I got on with cooking a Sausage Casserole, which ended up being put in the back cabin stove to slow cook, whilst that was cooking I got on with cleaning some of the brass in the back cabin. Painting done, Keith got on with an electrical job in the saloon, which will make our lives much easier. Electrical sockets in the saloon for the printer are behind the printer on the floor and are difficult to get so, so Keith has moved the socket higher up, so we can reach it at all times. Now I do not have to get down on my knees every time I need to switch it on. With old age creeping in fast, this will be of benefit later on hahahaha. Because there was no room in the saloon for me, whilst Keith did this job, I tidied and cleaned the back cabin which was a little dusty due to the ash and soot from the back cabin stove. I washed some of the plates, shook the rag rugs, swept and washed the floor. It was all neat and tidy once more. The time was moving onward as were the boats which were coming up through the lock or heading down to the locks. As I stood on the back counter drinking a coffee a boat came past me heading for the lock, and my first thought was "I wonder if they will wait for another boat to join them". The answer was NO, they immediately began filling the lock, opened the gates and moved the boat into the lock, they were about to wind the paddles up, when I shouted to them "There is a boat coming". I spotted a boat coming out of the tunnel. They must have seen this boat in the tunnel behind them, but did not seem to realise they needed to wait and share the lock with it. I stood on the back counter and waited for the other boat to join them. It says clearly on the lock gate, that boats should be prepared to wait up to an hour for another boat to share the locks with. But people are ignoring the signs. On only two occasions today have boats actually sat and waited for another boat to join them. To all those people who are not sharing locks YOU ARE SELFISH. Read the notices PLEASE.
Before I knew it, it was 12 noon and time for some lunch, which was salad rolls and homemade cake. Having just finished lunch there was a knock on the boat and who should be standing on the towpath but Maffi and Molly the dog. Maffi is moored up below the locks at Bridge 1 and had walked up to say hello, which was nice of him. It was the first time we had met Molly, who is adorable. If you have never read Maffi's blog, I suggest you do, because it is a good read. BLOG. Maffi say's it as it is and whilst some may not agree with some of the things he writes about, he is only saying what many are thinking. I love reading his blog. We spent a good couple of hours nattering to Maffi over tea and coffee, it was such great fun catching up with him and meeting Molly. On Maffi's way up to us, he filled a dustbin liner with rubbish that he had picked up on the towpath. Have people never heard of bins???
2pm Keith and Maffi walked off down the towpath with Molly. Maffi was heading back to his boat and Keith was heading to the Chandlery to get some O rings for our water pump. When he returned, he was unable to get any O rings because they did not have the size we required, oh well it was worth a try. Whilst he was away, I thought I would watch a film, but when I switched on the TV, there was no signal grrrrrrrrr, so no film. As I type Keith is making me a coffee awwwww. Paddy is in his bed and Marmite is in the back cabin where it is warm. After my coffee, I will get on with making some dumplings for the Sausage Casserole, which we will enjoy tonight.
I hope your weekend is a good one. Chat soon xx
Friday, 28 October 2011
Crick to Braunston Top Lock, 8.5 miles, 7 locks, 2 tunnels in 3 hours 55 minutes.
I would post lots of lovely foggy photographs, but with a very poor GPRS signal there is no point, so you will just have to imagine the foggy start to my day. Mind you if it was foggy where you live you will know he scene. When I woke up, I had this leaning feeling, which did not bode well, so I opened the back cabin door to find that the water level had dropped further and that was why we were on the tilt. On opening the back cabin door I also noticed that it was a pea-souper outside. Walking Paddy in the fog was absolutely beautiful, with the sun trying so hard to burn through the fog it made for some lovely photographs. Paddy was a star this morning as far as getting on and off of the boat despite the huge gap to the bank. Bless him he is not a gap lover and really does wimp out when it comes to jumping anything. But this morning he seemed to find a bit of bravery.
Once we had eaten breakfast, we got the boat ready to leave the mooring at 9.15am. We made our way through Crick Tunnel and onward to the top of Watford Locks, where we signed in with the two Terry's who were on lock keeper duties. We chatted about the water situation and what will be happening over the next few months, it is already thought that next seasons cruising will be under restrictions, because of the current water problems, so this does not bode well for any of us trying to continually cruise. Yesterday four people we know on boats have decided to go into marina's for 3 months this winter. So it looks like the marinas are going to be doing nicely this winter, so far it does not look like the towpath winter moorings have many takers from what I have seen. Whilst we came down the flight, the boat in front of us, managed to get his paddles round the wrong way, flooding the towpath and sending stone and gravel spilling into a pile below the lock, this did not please the lockie's, who were left with the cleaning up. Mind you this was also the boater who did not share the Buckby Locks and when asked why not he just said "I am a naughty boy, aren't I". People like this really annoy me, they have absolutely no concept that this is supposed to happen to help save water. Anyway we were soon down the flight and turning right at Norton Junction, with the sunshine streaming through the trees. Braunston Tunnel was soon ahead of us and it was time for me to climb down in to the engine room, put on my ear defenders and peer out of the engine room door. I love to look at the construction of tunnels. They are such a feat of engineering and all so different. We only met one other boat coming towards us and that was an ex viking afloat boat, who was travelling at a snails pace. Out of the tunnel into brilliant sunlight, we found the moorings above Braunston Top Lock completely empty, so I told Keith to take his pick. We are moored up near enough to the top lock, but not so close that we will get clobbered by boats going in or coming out of the lock. This is going to be our mooring for the weekend. Now I just need to check that we have a TV signal so I can watch "Dowton Abbey" on Sunday. As we moored up NB Do Lalli Ali came out of the lock, they apparently read the Hadar blog, so if your now reading mine as well "Hello". Chat soon xx
Thursday, 27 October 2011
Welford Junction to Crick, 4 hours 35 minutes and 10 miles cruised.
Oh the joy of listening to rain thumping on the roof of the back cabin over night and this morning was music to my ears. I know, I know you will be thinking we don't need rain, but sorry to say we need lots and lots of it at the moment. I can imagine the local reservoirs will be so pleased if they could talk ha ha ha. Unfortunately I suspect that this rain will be a spit in the ocean, because it will take months of rain before they are full again.
Paddy seemed to enjoy his morning walk despite the rain, normally he hates being out in the rain. back on the boat Keith had put my breakfast out ready for me, which I enjoyed once Nog and Dog were fed.
We set off at 9am this morning amidst light rain, which although it wasn’t going to do a lot to fill the reservoirs, at least it was helping to make a splash. The rain came at us in waves, and lasted for most of our journey today, we pulled in to sell some Brasso to a boater, but we could not get anywhere near the bank because the water level was down by at least 3" still. At Mountain Barn we met up with Mark on Callisto, which was laden down with coal, diesel and other items, this was making for slow going, I think Mark was in for a long day.
We were struggling, so it must have been far worse for him. We moored at Yelvertoft to take on water, whilst the tank was filling I made us some lunch. Once the tank was topped up, which didn’t take long as it is a fast flowing tap, we set off again heading for Crick, meeting boats coming in the opposite direction. At the moment the water level is still about 3” down, and as we pulled into our mooring at Crick, it was evident we were not going to get into the side, poor Paddy is not going to like the jump to the bank this evening when Keith takes him for his walk, because he hates jumping gaps, it is either that or he will have to cross his legs.
We have a very good TV signal here, so hopefully we can watch something good on TV tonight. I have just made a Chicken Korma, which is now cooking in the back cabin stove. Both Paddy and Marmite are in the back cabin in the warm. I am thinking whether or not I should head off to the shop to get a few bits. I will think on it whilst I make us a coffee, so for now cheerio xx
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Foxton Top Lock to Welford, 2 hours 35 minutes to do 7 miles.
A Bright but chilly start to Wednesday, so I riddled the fire and got it going again, so the back cabin was warm. Before we could make a move Keith had to get the 9am bus into Market Harborough to take a torch back to Wilkinson's, because it was not working properly. Which is sods law when it comes to us buying anything.
Whilst Keith was away I got rid of rubbish and emptied the toilet cassette, I had planned to use our water containers to top up the water tank using our new funnel, but the water tap at the car park toilets above Foxton Top Lock was turned off, so that plan was dismissed, we will take water on a Yelvertoft now.
10.15am whilst I was clearing the Autumn leaves off the boat Keith arrived back with another torch, so fingers crossed this one works longer than the last one. We had a cup of coffee, then set about preparing the boat for the off. Keith fired up the engine, which coughed and spluttered into life, only firing on one cylinder for a few seconds then the second one cut in on and off, but having warmed up she was once again happy.
We left the mooring we had occupied for the last week and a bit, with a view to to make it to Welford Junction. On the bridge were a couple of gentleman in a pony and trap who waved us off, before they went on their way.
It was a stunning morning for cruising, and I could have been mistaken for thinking I had died and gone to heaven it was so beautiful. We said cheerio to friends as we passed them and wished them a Happy Christmas, because we do not know if we will be back on the Leicester Line again before Christmas, a lot depends on the water levels, this morning it is down at least four inches, so does not bode well.
As we cruised through the stunning countryside, I even got a photograph of a Kingfisher sitting on a branch in front of the boat.
A Boat Club hire boat allowed us to pass them before we got to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel, so we had a clear passage through.
Whilst on the move we had lunch, of a sausage roll and one of Jo’s home made mince pies each, it was not long before we arrived at Welford Junction at 1.10pm. All moored up we sold a bottle of toilet blue to a boat already moored in front of us. Marmite was put on her lead and Paddy was allowed out on the back counter. We were chatting to customers when a Jack Russell and German Shepherd jumped off of a boat behind us. The Jack Russell began wandering towards the boat, it then jumped on to the back counter, Paddy did nothing to stop it, but it met its match when it came across Marmite, who was in the back cabin, she chased it off the boat. No one messes with her, especially when it comes to her boat. The gentleman who owns both the dogs then began shouting and swearing at his hounds to get back on their own boat. I suggest it would have been a good idea to have supervised them when he opened the back doors of his boat and allowed them to jump off the boat in the first place. I really hate it when people just allow their dogs to jump off the boat willy nilly. Thankfully it is not something Paddy ever does. We have taught him not to get off of the boat unless we tell him to. Not only that those who allow their dogs to go off on their own, never pick up after their dogs. If I get up in the morning and find dog poop near our boat, I will know where it has come from and it will be going right back to his boat.
It is now 2.55pm and still stunning outside. We have no TV signal, so the DVD collection will come out later no doubt. I am off to think of something for tonight's dinner, so Chat Soon xx
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Our little super star seems to be enjoying the limelight as it puts in appearance at least twice a day.
When we move off, I will be sad to say cheerio to this beautiful creature. I know that many people see Squirrels as vermin but how can you not love this little beauty.
Today has been a day of collecting our glasses, which I am very happy with even if I do look like Dame Eda Everage. Keith also had his fillings, whilst I sat in the waiting room reading Hello magazine. We also took a last opportunity to catch up with friends Gill and Don who have a winter mooring in Market Harborough. We bought a few items in the town and stocked up the medicine box ready for the winter coughs and colds, because without a doubt they will probably come. The weather has turned damp yayyyy some rain at long last, but I am quite sure it is no where near enough, especially as British Waterways has gone back on their decision to close the locks down into Leicester as they had planned. Not sure why they have changed their mind, because we have not had any substantial rain they wanted, so only time will tell if that decision is going to cause water issues throughout the winter, we will not be around to find out, because tomorrow we are heading off to pastures new for the winter, which we are both looking forward too.
Right I am now off to think of something for dinner, so will chat again when we are on the move. xx
Saturday, 22 October 2011
It is true that being patient is a virtue and today it certainly paid off big time. Wednesday an Albino Squirrel was seen at Foxton Locks. I had not seen it, but saw a photo of it at the top lock cafe, so I was given the task of photographing it. Today was to be the day, I had planned to get up early and head out to see if I could get a picture of it, but I slept in till 8.30am, so an early start did not happen, but at 10am I went out with my camera in search of this white Squirrel. For two hours I sat where I had been told it would appear and nothing, Keith joined me and we even had a coffee, but still nothing so at 12 noon we went back to the boat and had some lunch, before I was off again. I went back to the same place and sat and waited, and waited and waited, then at 2pm I saw something move on the opposite bank, thinking it was a Grey Squirrel, I followed it and hey presto my patience was rewarded.
I am going to name it Snowy, I know not very original, but very apt, especially with winter coming. Albinism is due to gene mutations that affect the production of pigmentation. True albino animals lack melanin and are white with no markings and with unpigmented pink eyes. A couple of weeks ago they had an Albino Squirrel on Autumn Watch, so I am very excited to find one myself.
I am going out again tomorrow to see if I can get an even better photograph.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
The MOT continued for me today. I had to visit the opticians Specsavers to have a needed eye test, because my last one was almost two years ago. Before setting off for my appointment, I woke up way to early for my liking 6.30am, but it did mean I could stoke the back cabin fire, which we kept in last night because the temperature got down to -0.1c overnight brrrr. Fire stoked, cuppa made and enjoyed in bed, dog walked and breakfast eaten, it was then time for me to set off for the bus in Foxton Village. I am not a great lover of walking along the road, when there is no footpath, so I chose to take a longer route down, which took me through a country path.
I then reached the Oak tree below the church to wait for the Coachcare bus to arrive. It came past me at 11.05am and I was horrified to see the driver talking on his mobile phone as he sped down the hill. There were no passengers on the bus, but this was still dreadful and I have contacted the company to tell them so. It does not bare thinking about, what could have happened. If I had not had an appointment, I would not have used the bus, but needs must so when it arrived I did get on. I could have also said something to the driver, but then I thought that maybe he would refuse to let me on the bus, so I kept quiet. I am hoping that by contacting the company, they will take some action, I will see if I get a reply.
The bus dropped me off in Market Harborough at 11.20am so I had time to kill because my appointment was not until 12.25pm. I walked around the charity shops and bought a copy of "The man who sued God" starring Brian Connelly who I love. I also went into a few other shops before setting off to Specsavers. I had all the tests with lots of gismos, then saw the optician who did his tests with gismos, he then told me my eyes had changed a little, so new glasses were needed. Deep joy the bank balance would by now be screaming "STOP". I chose my new glasses, handed over the money and left the shop thinking what now with another forty five minutes to kill until the bus came back. I ended up going to Greggs for a sausage roll to stop my hunger pangs, I also purchased a Pudsey Key Ring, so have already done my bit for Children In Need this year. With 10 minutes to go until the bus was due to arrive, I sat in the bus shelter and waited and waited. This time it was 15 minutes late, which is not to bad.
I am now back on the boat, Keith had to play with the water pump again because it began leaking again grrrrr, but he is hoping that he has now fixed it, so fingers crossed. I now have to think of something for tonight's dinner. Then I am putting my feet up for the rest of the evening. Chat soon xx
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Yesterday it was our MOT, today Marmite and Paddy had their MOT, but that did not happen until later in the day.
Our day began with another chilly start, so I relit the back cabin stove and made us a cuppa. The day began like all other days, with breakfast, dog walking and the usual boat chores. After all of that Keith noticed a wet patch on the galley floor, which tied in with the fact that our water pump kept going off yesterday. Because when we took the shelf out of the sink cupboard, we saw a wet floor, which meant one thing, a leak grrrrrrr. This was not what was called for especially as Keith is still struggling with his back. On closer inspection we found that the pump was leaking on one of the joint, this was not to difficult to fix thankfully. After turning off the water the pimp was taken out, the joint had Vaseline applied to both ends, it was then reconnected and hey presto job done. Now we just have to dry the floor of the cupboard out, so there is no door on the cupboard or floor and the contents of the cupboard are sitting in the saloon for the time being. I made us a coffee whilst we watched the pump to see if it was going to leak, no leaks which was a relief. Keith's next job was to play with the new aerial cable and signal booster he ordered from Maplins. It is specially designed for cars/caravans/boats and is powered directly from 12/24v. He set it up and so far it seems to have improved the signal to our TV’, no we want to try it on the TV in the boatman’s cabin. If it works well other boaters may be interested in it.
After some lunch it was time for me to get Marmite in her cat basket, she really was no impressed with that idea and did her best to evade her capture. Paddy was quite excited at the prospect of going out, so he was none to bothered about having his lead put on. Having secured Marmite in her basket, she complained all the way to the meeting place, where I was to wait for Myles from Paws4walking, who was very kindly going to collect us and take us to Vets4less in Market Harborough. Myles duly arrived at 1.40pm, this was the point that Paddy decided he did not want to play the game, refusing to jump up into the van. After some encouragement though he did get into the cage in the back of the van. I then kept my fingers crossed that he did not throw up. Marmite was also put in the back of the van, where she continued to meow her disapproval. We were soon at the vets and both Marmite and Paddy behaved impeccably whilst being seen by the vet. They both came through their MOT and vaccinations with flying colours, which was fantastic and it only cost me £35, which is so much cheaper than last year when we went to another vet. It was Myles who told me about Vets4less and I will definitely use them again. MOT over it was back in the van and homeward. I was so proud of Paddy for not throwing up in Myles van, Marmite even stopped meowing.
Back on the boat, they are both crashed out, not sure if that is down to the vaccinations or the van journey. I now have to think about dinner tonight, so I am off now. Chat soon xx
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
It has been a very busy day for us, which began with and alarm call at 6.30am. Waking up in the dark felt so strange, but we needed to be up and ready to be off the boat at 7.30am. So Paddy was walked, breakfast was eaten and my first cuppa of the day was drunk before we locked up the boat and began walking to Foxton village to catch the 8am bus to Market Harborough. The bus was in fact 15 minutes late, which did not both us, but a gentleman who was waiting with us seemed less pleased as he kept shaking his head. I said "Good Morning" and got no reply what so ever, so left him to be Mr grumpy.
After what seemed like a speedy trip into Market Harborough, we stepped off the bus and made our way to the indoor market, where we enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee from the market cafe, which does some wonderful food as well. At the moment the market is fighting relocation after the council have said they may want to relocate there offices there. NEWS. I personally think it would be tragic if the market place had to move just to keep the council happy. Anyway enough politics we enjoyed our coffee, wandered around the shops, then made our way to the dentist, for the first of our MOT visits today. I am not a dentist lover it has to be said, so when I sat in the chair my hands tightly gripped the chair arms, like I was on a white knuckle ride at Alton Towers, I do not like them either by the way. I was pleased when my dentist told me there was absolutely nothing to be done and that I was doing a wonderful job with my brushing, I did not have the heart to say to him, I only brush once a day and floss once a week ha ha ha. Keith was a different kettle of fish, he has to go back for two fillings next week. Having been to the torture room, we then walked up to Mistry's the chemists and got our flu vaccinations, which we did last year, the difference this year was the cost, because last year we paid £15 each, this year we only paid £9.99 each, which is an absolute bargain if it stops us getting flu or worse still swine flu. With that all done we walked up to Union Wharf and collected our post from our new post box and from the office of the hire company, we also had a nice chat with friends there before walking back into town where we enjoyed a sausage butty at the market cafe, washed down by another of their fantastic cups of coffee. 1.20pm Keith had an eye test as he was over due, which he found out earlier in the morning when he went into Specsavers to try and get two new pairs of glasses. His other ones are at the bottom of the canal, yep he keeps dropping them in the water where ever we seem to go grrrr. So eye test done, he was told the news that he needed a new prescription, so yet another expense. I will be having mine done on Thursday and I just know they will tell me I need new glasses, as I know my eyes are getting worse. The poor bank account is being hammered this month, but needs must. You should never neglect your eyes. With the money handed over for his new glasses which will be ready in a few days, we legged it to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Foxton, I was praying it would not be late, because our Tesco food delivery was due between 4and 5pm. We in fact got back to Foxton at 3.30pm, so I had just enough time to light the back cabin stove and put the shopping away we had done in town, which included two lamb shanks from the market butcher for £2.99 each mmmm will be nice in a stew. I also bought bird food for the birdies I love to photograph so much. Shopping put away I gathered my fold away crates, bags and the trolley and wandered off down the path to the entrance to Foxton Locks and waited. Some 10 minutes later my phone rang, it was my Tesco man telling me he was 5 minutes away, wooo hoooo he was early, ok it was only 10 minutes early but just as well we had not been late back from town. Shopping packed into the crates and bags, I wheeled it back to the boat having waved to the Tesco man. I then had the arduous task of stowing all the shopping away, but this time I was beginning to feel cream crackered. Shopping stowed away, time to think about dinner for us and for mog and dog. It was also chilly in the saloon, so I lit the saloon stove as we were both having showers and the bathroom was cold.
it is now 19.46pm, I am showered and ready for my bed. It has been a busy old day and I am tired. Paddy and Marmite are lounging around in the boat, because it is nice and cosy. I have a feeling I am going to sleep well tonight. Chat soon xx
Monday, 17 October 2011
I saw very little point in posting yesterday as not much happened with it being a Sunday. Foxton Locks was pretty busy with visitors which is a good thing, because at the moment with so little boat traffic, the businesses are struggling.
I went out with my camera and caught this little Common Tree Creeper.
With the sun out it was very pretty here at Foxton.
Today (Monday) is going to be another quiet day I feel with a cold biting wind blowing outside, the back cabin stove is going. I have been down to the sanitary station to empty one of the toilet cassettes, the walk down hill is great, but a slog back up so I worked up quite a sweat. I have been the only one to get the HFM survey of the day question right.
47% of us have a "love/hate relationship" with what?
Do you know what it is??? I will give you the answer at the end of the posting.
Back from the slog, I pulled a bag of coal out of the hold, as our coal bunker in the back cabin is almost empty. If the weather forecasters are correct it is set to turn a lot colder over the next few days, so I may well be lighting the saloon stove as well.
Keith is suffering with his back today. Yesterday it began stiffening up, so today he needs to take it easy, because we have a busy day in town tomorrow. I am hoping he is going to be ok, otherwise I may have to give him a piggy back ride to the bus.
Ok short post, the answer to the survey question was Sat Nav. Of course we have no need for one of them on the canal LOL.
Chat later xx
Saturday, 15 October 2011
The weather is on the change and this morning there was a definite chill in the air, inside the back cabin and outside. I relit the back cabin stove, to take the chill off. As I emptied the ash into the bucket on the back counter, there was a mist on the canal and in the valley.
Not only that when I took Paddy out for his walk at 8am there was also a frost on the ground brrrrrrr.
But as it is mid way through October, we cannot expect much else.
Whilst I ate my breakfast standing at the galley window (I know I should have been sat down), I noticed a Brambling in the bush eating Blackberries.
I am hopeful I will get some more photographs of them and I will try to get a better focus.
With it being such a beautiful morning, I left the boat at just after 9am with my camera, to see what delights I could snap.
With there being no breeze the reflections on the water were stunning.
It was a good morning for photography.
Even the bird life were in good voice.
A very beautiful Robin, who sung a merry tune.
After a lovely walk around the inclined plane, it was back to the boat, where we decided to go to the top lock cafe to see Gary and of course to have a coffee. We stood and chatted to the lock keeper about the lack of water and what may happen next we also nattered to others gathered there before walking back to the boat.
Lunchtime we had a visit from Don and Gill off of NB Idunno, who have a winter mooring in Market Harborough. They came out for a drive and a bacon roll at Gary's. It was great to see them and to catch up on all their news. After soup and bread for lunch, the fire was stoked and the TV went on for the F1 qualifying. It was then we heard the news that Wales lost the semi-final to France by one point in the Rugby World Cup, they must feel gutted, but they did there very best. Sadly today we also heard that Betty Driver died at the age of 91. Betty is best known for her hot pot in Coronation Street, she had continued to be in the program until a month or so ago, when poor health meant she could not be filmed. A sad loss.
As the day has worn on, I have done very little for a change. I am enjoying the fact that we are sitting back and letting the world go by for a change. I plan on doing just the same tomorrow as well. I a may even go out with my camera again, so watch this space.
Chat soon xx
Friday, 14 October 2011
Last nights moon was very impressive.
Another day which saw no rain arghhhh and none forecast.
We were awake at a reasonable hour and no cup of tea in bed today because after breakfast we prepared Hadar ready for our winter coal delivery from W. G. Hill. This meant securing the top sheets up, and then tying the side sheets down to give us good clear access to the hold for our loose coal. It was then a matter of waiting for the lorry to arrive, whilst we waited I cleaned the brass work outside, which was looking a tad dirty. I also got rid of rubbish, made us coffee and chatted to people we know at the wharf. The time seemed to go quickly this morning even though we were waiting, so I decided to have a slightly earlier lunch, just in case the delivery should arrive, and this turned out was a good idea, as at 12:15pm Chris and Tom arrived. They soon had all the coal emptied into the hold, I actually felt like a spare dinner, because normally it is me who stacks the coal, but you cannot stack loose coal, so instead I got into the hold with the shovel and spread the coal out evenly, so we would not be listing. Once the loading was complete I made us all Teas and coffees and of course paid for the delivery, which also included firelighters, kindling and toilet blue. After a quick chat Tom and Chris headed off for their next delivery in Market Harborough.
Before setting off, I helped a hire boat wind in the basin, they were struggling, so I got them to throw me the stern rope and I pulled them round, they were very grateful for the help. We then set off for Welford lock at 1.10pm, where once in the lock we were able to get the sheeting sorted out, which is easier to do in a narrow lock as we can get to both sides to retie the top strings. With the boat all ship shape and bristol fashion, it was onwards towards Foxton.
We did try and moor in a couple of places on route, but we could not get in.
We cruised through the Husbands Bosworth Tunnel.
and out the other end, moving towards Honey Pot Bridge in the autumn sunshine.
A pair of Buzzards entertained us with a flying display.
A lovely sunny afternoon saw us arrive at Foxton where we winded at the entrance to the top inclined plane arm, and having failed to get close enough to the bank between the top lock and bridge No.60 we carried on past the bridge and moored up just the other side of it, which is a good deep water mooring. The pound is down in level at the moment, thus why we couldn’t moor between the lock and bridge, where we usually have no problem.
Being moored where we are means I will not have to walk so far to get our Tesco’s delivery, which we have ordered for Tuesday afternoon. That is a real plus, another plus is we have a good TV signal here, which makes a change, because before the digital signal was turned up, we could not get anything here, so I am well chuffed, especially as Wales are playing rugby in the semi-final of the World Cup in the morning, with England out I have to cheer on someone, so Wales gets my vote.
Before I go I must just show this little character. By the bins at Welford there is a family of rats and they are not bothered by people at all because this one sat and had its photo taken.
I am off now, so I hope you enjoy a lovely weekend, I know I am going too.
Chat soon xx
Thursday, 13 October 2011
An early start to my day, as we were both awake at 6.30am. Not what was ordered, but for some stupid reason I wake up earlier and earlier these days. I guess it must be something to do with age, because I keep getting told "the older you get, the less sleep you need". At this rate I will not bother going to bed when I reach 70 yrs old. So with the early start came an early cup of tea. As I lay in bed and Keith was in the bathroom, we could both hear running water. Having listened hard to discover it was coming from the engine room. Keith opened the engine room door to find it drizzling and the rain was running down the side of the boat, down on to the gunwale and this was then running into the canal. Because the drizzle was making no noise on the roof of the boat, we had no clue that it was raining. I climbed back into bed and drank my tea, I then lit the back cabin stove, because it was a tad chilly with the drizzle falling outside. Marmite immediately realised the fire had be lit, so came and found a comfy place to lie down. It was then time to get up because Paddy was looking to go out. Keith and I folded the bed away for the day, I then took Paddy out for his walk along the towpath, whilst he sniffed everything he could find, I collected twigs which would go in my twig bucket. Back on the boat, Keith had got my breakfast ready, but before I could eat my cereal, Paddy and Marmite both wanted feeding. Touch FM was on the radio and horror of horrors, they were playing Shakin Stevens "Merry Christmas" arghhhhh its only October. Flippen heck the year has gone quick enough already without making it any worse.
At 9.40am we were ready to set off, destination Welford. The drizzle had all but stopped and there was even a sign that the sun may just put in an appearance, but that was short lived. As we made our way towards Welford Junction a Kingfisher flew in front of the boat, as if to show us the way. That is the great thing about this time of year, you can see the Kingfishers really easily. We arrived at Welford Junction at 10.25am, there was not one boat moored on the concrete moorings, which was amazing, because you normally see at least one moored up. We had a pleasant cruise along the Welford Arm, up through the one lock and then winded at the basin. We are now moored up at the wharf ready for our coal delivery tomorrow. Marmite and Paddy are out on the back counter and I am now going to sign off because we are going to The Wharf Inn for some lunch. xx
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
The one thing about the weather declining into winter, it gives me chance to do lots of yummy cooking in the back cabin stove. I get to cook lots of comfort food. Yesterday after lunch, I cooked up some beef mince, with onions, garlic paste and an oxo cube, after it had cooled I made up a batch of pastry and made us a meat pie for dinner, which was cooked in the back cabin stove.
I also made up some drop scone batter, and made a dozen drop scones for pudding, which we enjoyed with lemon and caster sugar.
I can see we will be putting on a few pounds over this winter if we are not careful. I can feel lots of walking happening on cold crisp days. The evening was spent watching TV with my feet up and Marmite on my lap. At 8pm I laid the bed out, so it could air before bedtime. The fire was allowed to die down, otherwise we would have been sweltering all night.
Both Keith and I had a splendid nights sleep, as I woke up this morning, alls I could hear was the sound of silence. I do so love it out in the countryside. I got up and made us our first cuppa of the day and we sat in bed discussing our options for this winter as far as cruising is concerned. We have not made any fixed plans, but Coventry and the Ashby look like they maybe on our cruising list. I was enjoying a bit of a lie in, but Paddy soon put pay to that. He kept running in and out of the engine room, which meant only on thing, he needed a wee. So I had to get up and take him out, so we went for a stroll down the field. By the time we got back Keith had laid up my breakfast. I relit the back cabin stove after I had swept the chimney. It was then I got on with the days jobs list.
1st job of the day was to rub down and paint the portside galley doors to match the starboard side.
First of all I masked them all up then applied the undercoat. Whilst I waited for the paint to dry, Keith made some running repairs to our front fender.
We are hoping it will last out the winter, we will then put our new fender on for the start of 2012.
After lunch the paintwork was dry enough to put the first coat of red gloss paint.
With the gloss paint drying it was time to do the 2nd job of the day. We both climbed into the hold to make final preparations for our coal delivery this coming Friday at Welford. The delivery will be loose coal, as we can no longer sell coal, and as it is just for our use, we have decided to buy it loose, rather than bagged, no point in us paying the extra for it to be bagged. We are going to see how it goes. We are hoping that being loose it will fill the hold more efficiently giving us more spare space for storing other things, because we have plans for something else to go into the hold, but need room for it first. I will post on that thing another time, when it happens. We also think it will look better when we attend the “Village at War” weekend at Stoke Bruerne next year, as we doubt very much that coal was bagged in plastic bags during the War! Not only that if we do go to other rallies it will look great.
So that was it for the jobs list today, short and sweet just how I like it. I have tidied the boat and cleaned the bathroom, but as our bathroom is only 2ft x 4ft, it does not take long to clean.
With an hour going spare with nothing to do before cooking dinner, I went out with my camera to see if I could find the family of Kestrels which have been flying near the boat, but despite me walking a good old distance, I could not see them at all. Hopefully I may get a glimpse of them before we leave the mooring tomorrow.
It is now 4.40pm and I have to think about tonight's dinner, so I am off now. Chat soon xx
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
I was sat thinking about life in general and how lucky I am. I really do feel lucky to live the life I live. It then got me thinking about the winter to come and the most frequently asked question any boater ever gets asked.
Aren't you cold in winter????
The answer to that question is most definitely NOT.
I bet I can talk to any boater and they will say that is one of the first questions they ever get asked. Some will say it is a bit of a running joke amongst boaters whether they be liveaboards or just weekend and holiday boaters. But to me there is no such thing as a silly question. I always say if you do not know, then ask. On our boat we have two coal stoves and a hold full of solid fuel, both smokeless and house coal. Do I look like I am going to be cold this winter?
The back cabin stove will do all my cooking and boiling of water, which saves on gas. On the back cabin stove we burn good old house coal. I know your thinking arghhhh that is so smoky but it does the job. We have tried burning smokeless on it, we woke up in 40 degrees of heat in the back cabin, because the stove does not shut down like a normal coal stove. The saloon stove burns smokeless fuel and will heat the rest of the boat including the radiator in the bathroom, so we will have a very cosy boat again this winter. Even though the saloon stove is mainly used for just heating, I do keep a kettle on the top and it can be also used for slow cooking casseroles, heating soups, beans etc, you can even cook baked potatoes in the ash pan.
There are so many advantages to burning solid fuels, ok I know it may not be entirely enviromentally friendly, but needs must. You do not have to burn coal, you can choose to burn wood. I grew up with open fires, a Rayburn and a Parkray, so I know all about fires and how romantic they can be on a cold winters night, you cannot beat a real flame.
What are the downsides to coal fires???
The downside to solid fuel is that there can be a lot of dust from the fire and ash pan, so if you have chest problems it could make it worse.
The fire can sometimes die down overnight if you do not make it up properly making the morning a little chilly. Once you know your stove, it should never go out, unless you want it to do so.
I sweep our chimneys regularly, now for me this means at least twice a month for the back cabin stove and once a month for the saloon stove. The reason I sweep the back cabin stove more often is because it does tend to soot up more burning the house coal. Sweeping the chimney may seem like a tiresome job, but it should always be remembered it could save your life. And on the point of saving a life, we have two carbon monoxide alarms and two smoke alarms on our boat, one of each in the back cabin stove and in the saloon. The carbon monoxide alarm in the saloon actually did save our lives. Not long after we moved on to the boat, there was a blockage caused in the chimney and the alarm went off during the night. I personally am so pleased we spent a few pounds to buy the alarms.
Ok coal is not the cleanest of things, so yes I sometimes look like a coalman and chimney sweep, but that is a small price to pay to be warm.
Once a year I paint our stoves with stove paint, which can be bought from any chandlery, I also black the back cabin stove with some stove polish, so it looks nice.
So would I change my heating???
The answer is No. We have friends who have diesel heating and every winter their heating breaks down at the coldest time and they have no back-up. At least with solid fuel you will always be warm and have a back-up for cooking.
Before I finish, you have just read this post. Do you have a solid fuel stove???
If the answer is yes.
Have you swept the chimney lately???
If the answer is No, then make sure you do it. Because it could just save your life.
Crick to Downton Hill 8 miles in 5 hours 10 minutes.
Another breezy start to the day, but remarkably mild for October. Despite it being mild, I still lit the back cabin stove so I could do the days cooking on and in it and so the kettle was always on the boil.
Having got the stove fire going and Paddy walked, I headed to the Post Office, not to buy stamps, but to buy some bread, mushrooms and a TV paper. There break is a little on the expensive side, but it is freshly baked and we both love it.
We left Crick at 9.20am after saying cheerio to Bruce on NB Boston, he had just come back from the shop. We will see him again at Welford.
Cracks Hill was looking a little dry due to the lack of rain.
A boater found out the consequences of mooring on the outside of bends, when we clobbered him, whilst negotiating the bend with a hire boat coming in the opposite direction, who planted themselves in the middle of the canal. I don’t think they will be doing that again, they should know better than mooring on the outside of a bend. I asked the hire boater if they were ok and they signaled they were fine. So I wave them on their way.
We had a very quiet cruise after that only meeting a couple of boats coming in the opposite direction. We moored up at Downton Hill at 12.30pm and I immediately got on with making us some Tomato Soup for lunch with some of the bread I bought from the post office. The plan is to stay here for a couple of days. We have a digital TV signal, so we can watch some decent TV, now I just have to hope there is something decent to watch. Knowing my luck it will be positively dreadful. I am also hoping to get some more paintwork done if it remains dry and mild.
So on that note I will say cheerio for now xx
Monday, 10 October 2011
Caraven Moorings between High House and Stowe Hill. to Crick 10.7 miles, 14 locks, 1 tunnel in 6 hours 45 minutes.
Not got a very good GPRS signal, so going to make this quick.
We left our weekend mooring at 8.15am heading for the Buckby Flight, autumn is very much in evidence now, with the leaves changing colour and fluttering to the ground.
I do love the autumn, but with the leaves now falling in a strong breeze, many of them are landing in the canal, which will only make the silting up problem even worse, British Waterways will most definitely have to think about dredging soon, because we were dragging the bottom for most of the trip to the Buckby Flight which we got to at 10.5am. We thought we would probably have to wait for an hour for someone to share, with but oh boy did we get lucky, because no sooner we had moored up and I had spoken to a boater coming our of the bottom lock, who had not bothered to share with another boat because he was in a hurry, I spotted three boats coming away off behind us, so we waited for them to arrive at the lock. We shared the Buckby Flight with Alan and Fran on NB Woodsey, who also had Pam and Claire on board for a trip to Banbury.
Back to the man who did not share with boats behind him this morning. It is because of people like him the water level was so low again today and it is because of people like him, that they will be closing the Grand Union Leicester Line - Lock 18 Kibworth to Lock 30 Kilby. This has been coming for a while and now it is going to happen from the 24th October, if we do not get some substantial rain, because they cannot take anymore water our of Saddington reservoir because it has hit its limit. It makes me very angry that some people are so selfish.
Ok enough of that rant. We got to the top of the Buckby Flight and said goodbye to Alan, Fran and the crew as they were off to Braunston, we turned on to the Leicester Line at Norton Junction at 12 noon and made our way to Watford Locks, on our way to the locks we came bow to bow with a hire boat, who was on the wrong side of the canal, which meant we collided not once but twice because the hirer did not have a clue what to do to correct the situation. We arrived at the Watford Locks, moored up and I walked up to find Terry the lock keeper, who was sat in his office. Terry told us to follow NB Moonshadow up the flight after the hire boat had excited the final lock. Within minutes we were making a move. Now normally when you get to the staircase you work the red paddles first then the white, but today I had to work them backwards because the locks were leaking so badly they would have flooded our hold. Locks conquered, we thought we might moor up before Crick tunnel, but not a chance in hell because the water level was down and we could not get into the bank, there was nothing for it but to carry on to Crick through the tunnel.
We arrived in Crick and took up their first available mooring close to Crick bridge and who should be moored up in front of us but Bruce on NB Boston. Having moored up Bruce asked if we would like a cup of tea, there was no refusal on that offer. Bruce supplied the tea and I supplied the biscuits, which were enjoyed sitting on the towpath. It was lovely to catch up with all of Bruce's news from his summer travels. We will be seeing more of him over the winter no doubt as he will be at Welford. After a we had consumed the biscuits and our tea, it was time to part company, because I needed to arrange something for dinner, Paddy and Marmite needed feeding and Bruce had jobs to do. The afternoon has worn into the evening and it is already getting dark. This post has been a little longer than expected, but hey ho.
I hope you had a lovely weekend xx
Sunday, 9 October 2011
A later start to my Sunday, because I was in no hurry to get out of bed. Paddy did not get his walk until after 8.30am, but he did get to enjoy a run across one of the fields, which meant he took a very slow walk back to the boat, where I then cooked Keith and I poached eggs, bacon and mushrooms on toast. Keith normally cooks Sunday breakfasts, but I did it for a change. After breakfast I got on with relighting the back cabin stove, so I could cook the days meals and to dry the washing I had put in the washing machine, this washed whilst the generator was charging the batteries for the day.
Today's evening meal was to be the remainder of the meatballs from yesterday.
To the pan I also added an onion and a leek and allowed it to fry off. Whilst that was happening, I sliced some carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato and ordinary white garden potato and put them in a casserole pot.
The meatballs, onion and leek was then added to the casserole pot, with garlic, a stock cube and enough water to cover the ingredients. I then put the lid on and placed it in the oven to slow cook all day. By late afternoon, it was cooked through.
So I added some broad beans and mushrooms, thickened the stock and placed it back in the oven.
With dinner now coming to the boil, I got on with painting the porthole liners with a second coat of red paint. The galley doors are now finished all be it they need a coat of clear varnish, but that will only happen once the paint has dried hard.
Before lunch Keith and I removed the terret's off of the pigeion box for the winter. Through the winter, I do not clean the brass as much as I do throughout the spring and summer, so to cut down on any cleaning I may do, we take off things which need a lot of cleaning. The terret's are cleaned, wrapped up and put away until spring and in there place we put a nut and bolt, to stop the rain coming in. There seemed to be plenty of people on the move again today, some passing us slower than others. I am sure some people do not know what tick over is.
After lunch we sat down and watched the Japanese F1 GP, congratulations to Jenson Button on winning the race and to Vettle who has won the championship for the second year running, he is actually the youngest ever driver to do it back to back.
Elaine came and saw us bringing with her a jar of her homemade Mincemeat, which will definitely be going into a pie for Christmas. I will enjoy it with ice cream and Keith will probably have custard. I am not a custard lover.
As the day wore into evening, Keith took Paddy out for his evening walk and I got on with dishing up our meatball casserole dinner, which even though I say it myself was yummy. For pudding we enjoyed banana's, I had mine with yogurt and Keith had his with custard. Outside it is now dark and it is not even 7pm yet arghhhhhh winter is coming. The wind has begun to blow again, yet we are nice and cosy inside. Ground Hog Day is on the TV and now as I type this final sentence, I am thinking about tomorrow and the fact that we have the Buckby flight to do. So on that note I am off to check mail and to sit and enjoy the delights on the TV tonight.
Take care and stay safe out there xx