*****Is going there and back to see how far it is.*****

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!

Life on the cut through my eyes.

Daisypath Anniversary tickers
*****Stay safe and warm out there..*****

Sunday 31 October 2010

The last day of October.

Hi Folks.

So who forgot to put their clocks back an hour in the UK?

We did ours before heading off to bed, that way we know that we will not forget to do it.
Saturday ended with a rather nice sunset, which I could see from the galley. Obviously our body clocks were not at all happy with the change because we were awake at 5.30am and as per-usual we were sat in bed drinking tea. The topic of conversation was all about storage boxes and where to get some strong ones to hold all our spare parts for the boat. It is odd the things you chat about whilst in bed, especially at such an early hour. We did settle back down and try to nod off, but I was so wide awake that I just lay snuggled under the duvet and thought about the seasons.
Why on earth were you thinking about the seasons I hear you ask?
Well it is officially the end of the British Summer time today, so Autumn is now here and Winter will follow on closely. I then got to thinking that actually my life has been made up of the seasons. From birth to the end of my teens was my Spring. From the end of my teens until the end of my Thirties I class as my Summer. From my 40th year until I guess my 60th year will be my Autumn and from then on it will be my Winter, when I will be slowing down and relaxing into old age. I can get very philosophical at times. I think certain things that have happened in my life have made me this way.
There was no way I was going to go back to sleep, so I decided that I was getting up and making an early start to the days chores. As I opened the galley doors to the outside world it was clear to see that we had a heavy mist hanging over us, and the sheep grazing in the field opposite. I was just putting the Perspex window in when a flash of blue sped past me. It was one of the local Kingfishers going about its business. Before breakfast Paddy got his walk up the towpath as always and then I had my breakfast on my return to the boat.
Before relighting the back cabin stove, Keith wanted to check the oil level in the gearbox. I threw the rag rugs out of the back doors and before putting them on the roof, I gave them a good shake. Although I love rag rugs they do tend to trap the dirt. Keith lifted the back cabin floor and it was a good job he checked the gearbox oil because it was low. Having topped up the oil, we put the floor back down and I replaced the rugs. I then went off to the sanitary station to empty the cassette and get rid of rubbish. As I walked across the car park, I noticed something laying on the floor, so went over to investigate. Someone had left a pair of dark Blue socks behind, which seemed very odd. With the thought that this person may actually come back for them, I hung them over a railing. It does seem an odd thing to leave behind. There must be someone out there with very cold feet.
By the time I got back to the boat Keith was chatting with a Youngman who has just bought his first boat and wanted some help with what coal to burn. He had no idea about fires or coal, so having discussed the coal he would be better off using, it became apparent that he was struggling with his stove, so I offered to show him how to use his stove efficiently and how to keep it in over night. The poor guy was also having problems with his batteries, which I could not help with, but another boater came along and was able to jump start his boat for him. It always happens in three’s as I have said in a previous posting and it happened to him because his dogs lead broke. I told him the only way is now up.
Customers came to buy coal and kindling and as I popped in and out to supply them, I also made a curry for tonight’s dinner. That is now cooking in the back cabin stove, which I did eventually light up again.
It is now 12 noon and Foxton Locks is very busy with walkers, boaters and people just enjoying the last day of October.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Coal Sales and Chit Chat.

Hi Friends.

Saturday has been a lovely day. After a chilly old start, the sun came out which warmed the air a little.
After doing the usual morning stuff, which I will not bore you with again, I had a couple of bags of coal to deliver to a regular customer. So there was I man handling the trolley out of the hold, whilst Keith grabbed hold of it for me, the trolley that is. We then unloaded the two bags of coal and I wheeled them up the towpath, over the swing bridge and up the arm at the bottom of the Inclined Plane. With this job there tends to be a certain amount of walking, lifting and getting dirty all the things I love thankfully. I am sure I should have been born a boy ha ha ha.
Delivery made, I got back to the boat to find Keith underneath the galley sink, huffing and puffing. Having added a temporary "U" bend to the galley sink last year, Keith tried to replace it with a better alternative. It didn't work, so we will have to think about it again. Like all good ideas they very often come to nothing, when it comes to us doing a job.
Why is it some jobs take ten times longer than they are supposed too?
With the pipework put back the way it had been in the first place, I made us some lunch which included me toasting some of the Bara Brith I had made and very nice it was too with some butter on it.
After lunch I got a phone call from a new customer who was wanting to come and collect some coal by car, which happens quite a lot on our run. They arrived and parked up in the Foxton Locks car park and the coal was wheeled to them on the sack barrow. We got chatting about how people react to a woman delivering their coal and it reminded me of a gentleman we met 3 years ago whilst cruising.
We were on a sanitary point filling up with water and emptying rubbish etc, when this gentleman shouted across the cut "Could I have some coal please".
I replied "Of course Sir, as soon as we are finished here, we will pull over on to the towpath and unload some coal for you".
"ok" he shouted back.
So after we were done on the sanitary point we moved across the cut to the towpath and I went and enquired as to what the gentleman would like. He asked for two bags of Taybrite, which I unloaded. Just as I had loaded a bag of coal on my shoulder and begun walking up the towpath to his boat, he shouted "You can't do that".
I looked at him in astonishment and ask " What is wrong".
His reply was "You cannot do that, your a woman".
My reply could have been argumentative, but I just said "well sir this is what I do, I sell and deliver coal and yes I am a woman".
He really did not know what to say and so kept quiet as I put the 25kg bag of coal on the roof of his boat. I guess because he was a more mature gentleman, he saw it unfit for a woman to be lifting bags of coal, but it is what I do and as I come from a farming background I do know what I am doing. It is not about how strong someone is, it is all about technic and I have learnt that over the years I can carry heavy weights, if I do it correctly.
Another instance came about when we were on our other boat. We went to the Preston Brook National Festival back in 2005. Keith wanted to buy an anchor, rope and chain and luckily for us there was a stall selling just what we wanted. We were looking at a 25kg anchor, when the stall holder said.
"You will not lift that anchor my dear. Many a woman has tried today and failed"
I turned to Keith, smiled and picked up the anchor and put it on my shoulder. The stall holder looked at me in amazement and said "Bugger me, if I had not seen that with my own eyes, I would never have believed it". Like I told him it is not about strength, you just have to know the best way to do it. We did buy the anchor, rope and chain and it now sits in the front locker for when we do rivers.
Today has been a day of coal sales and chit chat. The chit chat has been with people we know and people we have just met, but it is always enjoyable. The canal is a small world and that was proven earlier when we were chatting with Malcolm and Barbara off of NB Pilgrim, it soon became apparent that we were friends with the same people and yet this was the first time we had actually met. it does make you realise though that you have to be careful what you say, just in case you upset someone ha ha ha.
I am now off to do our dinner, which is casserole and dumplings. Have a good evening, I am going to be watching the X-Factor and hoping that this weekend Wagner will be voted off.

Friday 29 October 2010

The Weekend starts here.

Hello Friends.

In my previous post, I told you about the collision we had had with another boat and the fact that this seems to happen to us a lot. These days collisions seems to be a part of our boating life. I said to someone the other day when they were talking about collisions with boats, that boating is a contact sport and in some respects it is. But it does not mean people should deliberately set out to hit every boat they come into contact with (Figuratively speaking). Because our boat is 70ft long and heavy with it, we go out of our way to slow down at bridge 'ole's and sharp bends, but we cannot determine what others are going to do, so if we do collide with anyone it is because they are not paying attention to what they are doing or they are just going way to fast. Keith is actually thinking of painting two bullseyes on the bow to give them something to aim at. But that would just encourage some people to be more reckless. If some boaters slowed down before bends and bridge 'oles they would not come into contact with other boaters and then there would be no need for verbal abuse and raised voices. I am not a confrontational person and so would rather say nothing and go on my way. The waterway's are ment to be tranquil and a place to slow down your pace of life, but it is becoming more and more noticeable that some people are bringing the motorway on to the canal. Whether this will become the norm, I and many others certainly hope not. As our paint gets knocked off by other boaters, I keep replacing it until the next time it gets knocked off. Neither Keith or I are paint proud, as far as we are concerned she is just a boat and therefore she will get scratched and knocked. On saying that though, the boat does get polished twice a year, to look after the paintwork. I love to touch it up and keep it looking nice, but not to the extent where I worry about every blemish.

Enough of my wittering on.

It is Friday so the weekend has begun as far as we are concerned. This morning we were wake at 4am. Yep I did say 4am. Infact we had been awake on and off all night. This was due to the fact that Keith fell asleep at 7.30pm and woke up at 10pm, so when it came to going to bed to sleep, he was tossing and turning all night. Not only that it was hot in our back cabin, the stove was working over time as well, which did not help matters. So there was I standing in the galley at 4am all bleary eyed making a cuppa. We did settle down to snooze a bit more and then got up at 8am. Neither Paddy or Marmite were bothered about getting up to early, so maybe they both had a restless night as well.
We did not leave the over night mooring until 9.20am. It was cool, dull and with light winds, so it was going to be an uneventful jaunt. We cruised for 2.55 miles, and arrived at Rainbow Bridge No 62, at the bottom of Foxton Locks 1hr 5mins later.
The leaves are still changing into their Autumn colours, which is quite a spectacle. Shades of Gold, Yellow, Reds and Browns, the colours gladden the heart of such a dull Autumn morning.
After we moored up on the 48 moorings, we went and spoke to Jo and John on NB Acen, who will be Wintering in Market Harborough as usual. It is always wonderful to catch up with their news and say hello to their two lovely Whippets. We have already had people call on us for coal and others who have placed orders for next week, so with the clocks going back at the weekend,
I know I am going to get very busy.
Because we have had a busy week, I have not had the chance to wash the boat down, so she was looking a bit of a state with soot from the exhaust chimney all over the engine room roof. There was nothing for it but to get a bowl of soapy water and give the whole boat a wash down. Three bowls of hot soapy water later, the boat was alot cleaner. I may clean the brass over the weekend. I did make a start yesterday evening, but then it began getting dark, so I gave up without to much of a fight. We are now going to stay at Foxton for the weekend. I do love it here as we get a good signal for both the TV and Online. I also enjoy walking around the Foxton Locks site. if the weather stays dry Paddy will get a run across the fields and I may even take my camera out and photograph the wildlife.
May I wish you a wonderful weekend and I will possibly post again over the weekend, I will see how the mood takes me.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Fine dining and conversation.

Hi Friends.

After a very busy day yesterday, with the coal delivery and a film crew on board, we left Market Harborough and moored up for the night behind Chrissie and Richard on NB Digitalis. Chrissie and Richard very kindly invited us to dinner. So having scrubbed ourselves clean and donned some clean clothes we grabbed a bottle of wine out of the fridge and went out for an evening of fine dining and conversation. The three course meal was extremely yummy. Chrissie tried to tell me it was just something she had thrown together, but the meal she cooked would have been up with all those meals dished up on "Come dine with me". Now I am not one for Stilton, but in Chrissies Mushroom Risotto it was mmmmmm, I absolutely loved it. The whole evening was fabulous and we never once discussed toilets.
For those not on boats reading this. Normally any boaters conversation always has the issue of toilets in it. Because some boaters prefer pump out toilets and others like us like the cassette toilets. But last night toilet was never mentioned once, even though we had drunk 2 bottles of wine during the evening and a couple of coffees. Come 10.30pm I could feel my bed calling and so we said our goodnights and left them to enjoy the rest of the evening.
Back on board our boat, I was soon snuggled down under the duvet because I was cream crackered, it had been a busy and long day.

This morning we were awake pretty early and so Pad got his morning walk as the sun was coming up over the hill.
I had let the back cabin stove go out last night, because it was clogged up with clinker, having burnt the last of the coal from another coal merchant and the coal was dreadful it has to be said. It would clinker the fire up, which meant the fire would not work properly. So one of my first jobs was to empty the fire out and then remake it. It also gave me the opportunity to sweep the chimney. With the stove remade, we said cheerio to Chrissie and Richard and pulled off of the over night mooring, with a view to head for Saddington. Have negotiated the Foxton Locks swing bridge, I met Keith and the boat in the Rainbow Bridge '0le, where we saw John and Jo on NB Acen, they are heading into Market Harborough basin for the Winter. Having said "good morning" to them, we said we would see them in a couple of weeks time and went on our way. We had our first collision for weeks. It happened just after Debdale Marina. We were meandering around the bend when an Anglo Welsh boat came at speed towards us. We could not get out of the way because we were on the outside of the bend and he was not quick enough to take action, so a hefty collision took place. We however did not move as we are weighing around 29 tonne at the moment, they just bounced off of us. The woman on the bow was apologising, to which I just said "don't worry". There is absolutely no point getting cross, because these things happen and to us it appears most of the time ha ha ha. We just carried on our way as they tried to get their short hire boat under control.
We arrived at the winding point at Saddington, we winded the boat and came back to near
Smeeton Hill Bridge No.70, which has a lovely view across the fields and lots of peace and quiet.

Yesterday I put some Lamb's Knuckles in the back cabin stove to stew. With them cooked and cold I have taken all the meat off of the bone and added veg, potatoes, onion and garlic to the stock. It is now back in the back stove cooking for tonights dinner. Later on I will add some Mushrooms and Dumplings for a warming Lamb Casserole. The Lamb Knuckles were only £1.50 each, so a very cheap meal.
I am going to end this posting now, so that I can get on with ordering my Tesco food order for next week, which we will have delivered to the boat. Oh the joys of the internet and a decent connection. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Coal delivery, filming and dinner out.

Hi Friends.

It has been the most amazing day for us. We had thought it was going to be a day of loading coal and then moving towards Saddington, but it did not turn out quite like that.
The alarm clock broke into song at 6.30am and we were up and dressed ready for our coal delivery during the morning. After walking his lordship, I opened up the sheeting and lowered the side sheets, to make life a lot easier when loading. Keith helped me to pull the side sheets down and secure them in place. Whilst waiting for the delivery to arrive, I got on and hoovered throughout the boat, as we seem to have accumilated lots of dog hairs and leaves. Most of the leaves were in the engine room it has to be said. Hoovering done Chris arrived with our coal from W.G. Hill & Son. We had Three Tonne to load on to the boat today, which is 120 bags of pre-packed solid fuels. Whilst Chris unloaded the lorry a film crew arrived to interview a gentleman about the first IWA rally at Market Harborough in 1950 for a program about the history of the canals. He was to be interviewed onboard First Fruits, David and Viv's boat. But the interviewer Ian soon became interested in us loading coal on to our boat and asked if he and his film crew could film and interview us as well. We were happy to oblige. I was given a radio microphone, which was fitted on to my shirt and as i loaded the coal into the hold, I had to talk about my job and our life on the canal.
I certainly looked the part all covered in coal dust, no make-up and hair in a mess. But thats the life of a coal woman ha ha ha. As Chris wheeled the coal to the boat and I loaded the coal into the hold they filmed away. I was asked about the route we covered and the customers we supply. They also wanted to know about our life on the waterways. It was then Keith's turn to wear the microphone and load some coal and I took a back seat. They asked him about his history with the waterway's and why we do what we do. Keith is so much more at ease in front of the camera as he has done it all before when he used to teach rock climbing at a school. I am not quite as confident, but I think I gave a good account of myself. I will soon know, because my part will appear in this program to be screen next year ha ha ha. I have a feeling it may all end up on the cutting room floor though. We were then asked if they would be able to film on the boat as we left the basin, so Tony the sound man and Bertil the camera man climbed up on the roof and took up their positions. We took them a short distance up the canal and then dropped them off. it was all rather exciting stuff. We had our five minutes of fame, which will probably never see the light of day, but if it should do, I will let you know when to watch BBC1. Having dropped of the Tony and Bertil we continued on our way, through the stunning countryside and Autumn views to Bridge 5, having cruised just 4.6 miles, in 1hr 55mins, where we met up with Richard and Chrissie off of NB Digitalis. Having delivered them some coal, we have been inted to dinner, so I now have to get the grime off of my hands and face so that I look presentable for an evening of wining and dining. Took this lovely photo of one of the Gypsy horses, with the other one looking over the hill.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Wet and Windy Tuesday.

Hi Friends.

It is a real Autumn morning, wet, windy and down right chilly. So pleased we are not having our coal delivery today, as it is no fun loading coal when you wet and cold.
I slept like a baby last night after a nice hot shower. Yep we bought a new shower yesterday and after a couple attempts got it fitted and leak free. It was such a pleasure to stand under hot water pouring over my head. After doing coal deliveries the water was a little black. But that is the joys of my job. So having enjoyed a good nights sleep, we were up early as we wanted to mop out the bilge in the engine room. This is another job that most boaters hate doing, but it has to be done. But before starting our first job of the day. Paddy asked if he could go for his morning walk. Every now and again he will yodle a little tune and it is usually because he wants something. This morning it was a walk in the rain, not his favourite weather, but he had no choice if he wanted to cock his leg. Marmite on the other hand was being extremely vocal because her food dishes were empty and she wanted feeding. I told her she would have to wait till we got back from Pads walk. Not that she of course understood or did she?
Breakfast eaten, animals fed and fires stoked, I climbed into the hold to get the mop and bucket out, whilst Keith removed the floor in the engine room. Keith then mopped as I used an old ice cream carton to scoop out the oil and water out of the bilge. It cut the time the job took by half and we soon had the floor back down and the bucket emptied into the hedge. Another job conquered without a hitch. Yesterday when we bought a new shower, Keith also bought himself a new shaver to replace his broken one. All in all this month has been very expensive for us. I am hoping that over the coming month's we will be able to spend less on emergencies, as I think we must have had most things go wrong. I must not tempt fate thought so saying that in a whisper.
By 9am we were ready to head off towards Market Harborough Basin to our overnight mooring. We arrived to find an almost empty basin. Many of the hire boats are out on hire as it is half-term. Our usual berth was empty for us to go into, so we are now ready for our coal delivery tomorrow morning. Already since being here we have had three customers for coal. Everyone is beginning to feel the cold now and it does not help with it also being damp. When we come into the basin we always go on the electric, so I can get all my washing done. Today I have sheets, towels and boat ropes. Boat Ropes I hear you cry. Yes I wash our boat ropes in the washing machine. We have a set of Summer front ropes which are made of cotton, so they wash up nicely on a hot wash. Being on the electric is an ideal time to do them. I then hang them in the back cabin to dry slowly. They will then be put away until next Spring. Once all the washing is done, I will then put the hoover around later, so the boat is spick and span for the off tomorrow. We have a Dyson hoover onboard, but this only really ever gets used when we are on the electric. I normally use a dustpan and brush. The joys of being able to use the hoover, is I can get to all the dusty areas. Dust can be an issue onboard when you have a coal stove and we have two so double the dust you might say. But I would not be without our coal stoves, because we always have heating. So many people we know have diesel stoves or heating and they have been known to pack up in very cold weather, and with no back up heating they have to go cold until their heating is fixed. My advice to anyone having diesel heating, is to also have a coal stove as a back up for heating. You can also cook on the top and keep a kettle warm. Potatoes also bake nicely in the ash pan.
Right it is now almost 11.40am and we are heading out, so I will draw to a close and wish you a good Tuesday.

Sunday 24 October 2010

They always comes in Three's (Part 2).

Good morning folks.

Your wondering why the posting is Part 2, well I knew it. I told you everything always goes wrong in three's and I was right. Firstly the shower packed up, which we have not been able to fix yet. Secondly the fan belt broke and last night Keith shaver packed up, so there you go I was right. Still fingers crossed that is the last of it for now.It is an absolutely beautiful morning here at Foxton. We had a heavy frost overnight, but now the sun is shining and although it is chilly, it is fantastic.

The habit of waking up early has not stopped. We were awake at 6am yet again, so I got up and made us a cuppa, which as usual we sat in bed drinking. There was a Tawney Owl calling in the trees behind us, but no one seemed to be answering him. This is the time of the year when Tawney Owls announce their territories. I guess he is the Foxton Owl, and no one had better come on to his patch.Paddy's walk was a long the towpath to the look out point above the
Foxton Inclined Plane, the views were stunning in the morning sunshine. If you have never visited the Foxton Inclined Plane Museum, then I suggest you do, as it is well worth a visit, as are the Foxton Locks. On the way back to the boat I took this photograph of the Stop Lock because the water was so still it looked like a reflection in the mirror. The Stop Lock is there to prevent 2o miles of canal water, from here to Watford Gap escaping in the event of a serious leak.

When Paddy and I got back to the boat, Keith was cooking Poached Eggs and Mushrooms on Toast for breakfast mmmm and very yummy it was too.

Jobs for the morning were discussed and we both got into work mode. My job for the morning after making up the back stove was to get into the hold and sort the coal out ready for a coal delivery on Wednesday down in Market Harborough. I restaked some of the coal towards the front of the hold, so give me some extra room for the new intake. I certainly worked off my breakfast and got covered in coal dust for good measure. It is apart of being a coalwoman and it really does not bother me in the slightest. I am not one for manicured nails and posh hairdo's, which is just as well, because my nails are wrecked at the moment. I have coal miners hands, all black and split. But I would not change a thing. I love my job and all it entails. Keith was on his hands and knees in the galley changing the pump for the back boiler on the saloon stove. He also re-designed the shelf in the cupboard and lagged the pipework. Once all the jobs were done, we both sat down for a well earned coffee. I think that is all we are doing in the job line today, as it will soon be time to settle down for the F1 Gp, even though the local radio has just given the result out on the news. I hope that your Sunday is a lovely one.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Countryside Pursuits.

Hi Friends.

I hope your Saturday is a lovely one.
We had some very heavy rain overnight, which was still falling as we drank our cuppa in bed at 6am. It did not put the Tawney Owls off from chatting to each other in the trees across the canal though. The male was calling and a female was answering his calls. Maybe they are a long-term partnership, or a new one developing for the Spring.
We left the Welford Arm in the dry, but there was a chilly wind.
As we approached bridge 49 and Lodge farm, we noticed a gentleman walking across the field with a shotgun over his arm. It became clear that he was not alone. It was a pheasant shoot alongside the canal. This bought back memeories of my childhood when each October 1st the Pheasant season would start and would run through to February. Pheasant shooting has an open and closed season. It's illegal to shoot during the closed season.
We cruised our way through the Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1166yds).
As we continued through the beautiful countryside, Keith thought he heard geese, but it turned out to be hunting horns. Galloping across the countryside alongside us were a group of Horse and Hounds. There were in the region of Thirty riders with lots of hounds all enjoying the chase. Fox hunting was banned in the UK in 2004, but this does not stop the Horse and Hounds going out as normal. After the ban on fox hunting, hunts now follow artificially laid trails. Whether you love or hate Countryside Pursuits, they are apart of country life and have been going on for many, many years.
This stretch of the Leicester Line is stunning with its views. There are also some lovely houses, one such house is Lubenham Lodge, the home of Piggy French. Piggy is one of the UK's leading eventers.
We are now moored above Foxton Locks for the rest of the weekend.

Friday 22 October 2010

They always comes in Three's.

Hi Friends.

The title of this posting will be come apparent as you read on.
It all began after we moored up for the night last night. As you know after a hard days work, you want nothing more but to enjoy an evening of relaxation, a nice meal and a good hot shower. One out of three was what I got last night. I had a nice dinner and did relax in front of the TV, but the shower was anything but hot. There was I all prepared for my hot shower to relax the tired muscles from humping coal around, but as I turned on the tap alls I got was an icy cold blast of cold water. No amount of fiddling with the temperature tap made the slightest bit of difference. Keith even played with the tap, but there was no sign of hot water, so it looks like the thermostat has broken grrr. I had to settle for a good wash down and my Pj's. The sunset last night was something to behold it looked very moody, just like me after a cold shower.This morning we were awake with the Larks, not that I could hear the Larks over the road noise coming from the M1. I had been awake on and off throughout the night, and the sound of the road was never quiet, it just roared all night, like some angry monster. So at 6am I made a cuppa and sat in bed still listening to the traffic speeding a long the M1. We are not going to moor in the same place next time, we think we have found a quieter place, which we can get in.
We set off at 8.50am and the first sight of the morning was a Shepherd and his pair of sheep dogs rounding up the flock. It was a sight to behold seeing the dogs working to bring in the flock. The farmer never once leaving his landrover to shout instructions. I do not think Paddy would be any use at herding sheep, despite the fact that he came from a working farm.
It was a beautiful morning for cruising, and not as cold as it had been on the two previous mornings. The sun was really quite warm on my shoulders. As we had supplied coal to all our customers yesterday, we did not expect to do any trade today, but were pleasantly suprised to have Two new customers today and One regular customer who we did not supply yesterday as they were on the move. I get great joy at meeting new people and hearing their stories of why they came to live on the canal.
Although we have had another longish day today, 6hrs 35mins, it was a lovely autumnal day. Now this is where I come to the second of the three things that always come along together. Soon after we set off Keith noticed the ignition light was on and a quick check showed that the starter alternator belt had broken. Having arrived at Welford Wharf , we sold some coal and then returned back down the arm to the visitor moorings between the marina and Welford lock for the night. Now changing a drive belt should be easy, but no, upon having taken the safety cover off we realised that both of the 2 belts for the domestic alternator and the belt for the remote water pump for the engine had to be taken off first before being able to replace the broken one. Still the procedure was simple enough, and the brand spanking new belt was soon fitted and working. Makes us glad we carry spares for such emergencies, which of course makes them not an emergency, but my worry now is what will the third thing be to go wrong arghhhhhhh. Here is another photograph of a Kingfisher which I took this afternoon. I literally saw it at the last minute because the fish it is trying to eat was flashing in the sunshine. This has to be one of the best photographs of a Kingfisher I have taken. I am now off to make us some dinner and then spend the evening doing very little.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Coal sales are on the up.

Hi Friends.

I am afraid this is a quickie tonight, because I am everso slightly cream crackered after a very busy day. This morning, with a frost on the ground we set off for Crick. Along the way we managed to sell 22 bags of coal, our best day yet to regular customers and some new customers. It is always wonderful to meet and greet new customers. We winded Hadar at the winding 'ole between Bridge No.7 and the M1 Motorway bridge and have moored up near Bridge No.8 for the night, feeling slightly knackered but with a warm satisfying glow, maybe that is because the stove is kicking out a lot of heat.
Going to enjoy a nice hot dinner and then settle down in front of the TV. I have a feeling I may sleep well tonight.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Badgers and a chilly start.

Hi Friends.

Last night I decided to cook some stewing Beef and Kidney in Old Speckled Hen Ale. I wanted to cook it overnight in the back cabin stove and make a pie with it. What I did not reckon on was the smell coming from the stove when we went to bed. No sonner I lay down in bed, I began to feel very hungry. The smell was sublime.

Brrrrrrrr what a chilly morning we woke up to this morning. It was the coldest of the Autumn so far at 1.1C. I woke up after a very good nights sleep. I even had a lovely dream about seeing a Badger. I probably had such a nice dream because I ate some cheese before going to bed. I have always wanted to see a Badger in the wild, it is on my wish list of things to see. We had moored up on a stone wharf and there was a honey coloured stone wall edging a field which had a small hillock near it. I was just making us a coffee and looked out of the galley window to see a Badger feeding in front of me on this hillock. It seemed oblivious to me being there. I went and grabbed the camera praying it would still be there when I got back, which thankfully it was. I set the tripod up and began snapping away at this beautiful Badger. Whilst I was happily revelling in the fact that I had seen my first wild Badger, a lady stopped by the boat and told me that she regularly feeds the Badgers and would I like to go and watch them feeding at night. I absolutely jumped at the chance. In what seemed no time at all, I was sitting in her conservatory watching her feed Peanut Butter sandwiches to half a dozen Badgers, it was so mind blowing. The next thing was what seemed like several Owl's were hooting and I woke up. I thought that the Owl's must have been part of my dream, but Keith heard them as well, and I know he was not in my dream lol.

There was ice on the roof of the boat when I stepped off with Paddy for his walk. But on the plus side the sun was shining and it was beautiful. I love this sort of weather. Even though we were going to be heading up the Foxton flight, we did not hurry ourselves. Once back from a run across the field with Paddy, I made us some Porridge, which would keep us warm on the inside for the morning. We set off from the mooring at 9am and were behind another boat to go up the flight. Mark the Lock Keeper said we should follow them up. With windlass in hand off up the flight we went, smoke rings blowing from the engines exhaust stack on this chilly old morning, even the lock gate beams had ice on them, which was slow to thaw in the sunshine. Foxton Locks are easy locks to operate and you get a stunning view whilst you work you way up the flight. Having made it to the top, we set off through some lovely countryside, with the sun pouring through the trees.
Not all of the trees have their Autumn clothes on yet, but when these trees do change it will be spectacular, so I am hoping I do not miss it. The beautiful morning had bought out a few private boats and some of the hire fleet heading back to Market Harborough. Thankfully there were no collisions and no grumpy old boaters (gobs), even if some of them did look like they had frozen to the spot. We pulled in and unloaded some coal to a boater, who was heading slowly to Coventry. He said he was in no hurry and was just enjoying the quiet life. Now I know some women like to be colour co-ordinated with every aspect of there life, but I never thought I would see a fisherman being colour co-ordinated for fishing, but this gentleman certainly was. He also look very cold. We kept nice and warm with coffee and hot sausage rolls straight from the back cabin stove. I did us some lunch on the move, Keith ate his whilst thumping through Husbands Bosworth Tunnel, I stood and ate mine in the engine room whith my earphones on. Now that conjours up a vision and a half. Just as we arrived at Welford Junction, I managed to photograph this Kingfisher who had been flying in front of the boat. The one great thing about the Autumn and Winter, is you can see Kingfishers really easy and it is nice when they like to have their photograph taken.
We are now moored up at Welford Junction have cruised for 8.05 miles, I worked 10 locks, 1 swingbridge, in 4hrs 25mins, on what has been a stunning day.

For dinner tonight we are having a Beef and Kidney pie. The meat cooked very well overnight in the oven and is now cooking in the oven again as a very yummy pie. We will have that with some mash and veg. Looking forward to a quiet evening all being well.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Spam and Junk Mail.

Hi Friends.

What sort of Junk and Spam mail do you get?

This is what is in my Junk mail box today.

1). What’s Your Greatest Desire?
This is from TheNovelette.com.
At the moment my greatest desire is that you stop sending me Junk ;0)

2.) Account has time restrictions that prevent you from logging on at any time.
This is from supposedly NatWest.
Duhhhhhhh I am not with them, so I am not stupid enough to open their stupid e-mail.

3). Your Next Affair Is Waiting.
This is from someone called Carol.
Trouble is it is not my e-mail address and I am happily married, so why would I want an affair.

This is from Sex in a bottle.
Maybe I should put them in touch with Carol above ;0)

I am thankfully not the sort of person who just has to open any mail which comes into her e-mail box. I only ever open stuff which I know is from friends. The only thing this sort of mail does is make me giggle and then it gets deleted for good, disappearing into oblivion or until it reappears in my junk mail box.

Baking and Coal Deliveries.


It was a hectic day. I had planned on it being a quiet day, with some baking to be done,because the cake box was empty and begging to be filled again.I also wanted to get some tidying done. A tidy boat is a happy boat in my opinion. All started well, with us getting up fairly early as I had a customer coming to collect some coal. Before that happened Paddy and I walked down the towpath and through a gap in a hedge we stood looking at a spendid view from Gallows Hill. It was absolutely stunning on this bright Autumnal morning, with a slight mist over the valley. I at least enjoyed the view, Paddy was more interested in all the new smells in the grass and hedgerow. He has no no taste.Back on the boat Keith had laid on breakfast, which was only cereal and a cuppa, but very welcome all the same. We then settled into what was going to be a quiet day. Steve came and collected his coal and we had a good old natter as you do. It is one of the things I love about being a coalwoman, I get to chat to interesting customers. Steve and Sue went on their way and I went back to my quiet day mode, which ment getting the baking goodies out.First on the list was Chocolate Tiffin. I had a piece of Tiffin with coffee at Costa Coffee in Berkhamstead back in the Summer, when Jenny off of nb Sweet Dreams and I had a girlie couple of hours. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I would have a go at making it myself.I then made some Bara Brith cake (Welsh Cake), which I put in the back cabin stove so it could bake slowly. No sooner I had done that and made us a coffee, my phone rang and it was Debbie from the Wharf at Market Harborough. Three parcels had arrived for us and she needed us to collect them as they were rather large and taking up room in her small office. The boxes in question held lots of boat goodies. Actually they were full of spares for the boat. These included oil and fuel filters, water pumps, paint and other bits and bobs. With my cake still baking in the back cabin stove. There is never a dull moment in our lives, because keith has been suffering with a dodgy throat, so I checked to see if there was an appointment available at the doctors for this afternoon, which there was. So it was time to put our plan into action. We set off to wind the boat and then headed back to Market Harborough, our engine was happily thumping away down the cut,on a lovely Autumn morning.Just as we reached the basin, I noticed a Kingfisher sitting in a bush watching us as we passed by.I was was just quick enough with the camera. It looked like a juvenile, who was obviously not up to date on what you should do when you see a boat. Someone forgot to tell it to fly off as quick as your wings can take you. When we arrived at Market harborough we collected our parcels from the office, took on water, emptied the toilet cassettle and rubbish. Oh and we found time to natter to Mike one of the BW lengthsmen. Nb Lady Gwendolyne wanted some coal, so we agreed to meet them out at Bridge 14 the Union Canal Society moorings. As we were heading out that way we met up with Mike the BW man, he was there to try and grab a water tank with a grapling hook, which was floating in the water. We had noticed it on our way to the basin. Keith manage to get the boat into a position where I could actually grab hold of the tank, by lying on my stomach across the back counter. Not exactly lady like, but I have never been that lady like. I pulled it out of the water, only to discover it was just the top half of the tank. It looked like it may have been as a lid for something. I held on to it until we got into the bank where upon I handed it over to Mike, who was by now putting away his grapling hook and gloves. Job done. We moored up and then nb Lady Gwnedolyne pulled in for their coal, so of course we stood and had a good old chat. It is what us boaters do best. Keith then left for the doctors and I set about doing something for dinner. Whilst that was cooking, I unloaded a bag of housecoal from the hold for our use and emptied it into the coal bin in the back cabin. We burn housecoal on our back cabin stove, as it is the only coal that does not get to hot. We have tired to burn smokeless on it, but it gets so hot that the back cabin has been 40 degrees, which is not pleasant when you are trying to sleep. Of course not everyone likes housecoal as it is very smokey, but the way I see it, many years ago there was no such thing as smokeless fuels. Everyone burnt housecoal or wood and no one ever batted an eyelid. Keith did check as to whether this stretch of the canal is a smoke free area and it seems it is not, so we can actually burn what we like, but of course we do try not to upset anyone, so we tend to moor away from houses. Our evening was nice and peaceful. I got a load of washing done and we both enjoyed a lovely hot shower, before watching the TV for a couple of hours. I then had the job of building up the fires for the night and shutting them both down. With the back stove one done, I set about collecting coal for the saloon stove and as I was filling the bucket, it tipped over spilling the coal all over my foot. So much for being nice and clean after my lovely hot shower grrrr.


Brrr a chilly morning. The sun is however shining and it is glorious. Paddy got a run out across the field, which he really enjoyed, I just enjoyed the fresh air and the views across the valley. We set off at 8.15am, destination Foxton Village, as we have a food delivery arriving between 11am and 1pm. On our short jaunt we saw a Squirrel do acrobatics whilst trying to eat Hawthorn berries, a Cormorant took off in front of us and the gypsy camp ponies were all grazing on their tethers. For well over 100 years the gypsies have bred colourful cob horses. They were bred to pull the ornate caravans, but these days you very rarely see the ornate vans on the road. We arrived at Black Horse Bridge in Foxton and now have to wait for our delivery. As I was making up the back cabin stove a boat pulled in behind us and required some coal as they are beginning to feel the cold. I was not suprised as the lady was still in her pyjamas LOL.

11am and our food arrives in a Tesco van. Unfortunately he could not park in the lay-by, as it was full up with cars, so he parked over the otherside of the crossroads. We each carried a tray across the road to the boat, where I unload them through the galley window and Keith stacked the food very artistically on the worktop. The driver regaled us with his childhood memories of the time spent cycling along this very towpath, and the things he and his mates used to get up to. It was all said with a smile on his face, so clearly they were good days. After he left, I stowed all the shopping away. I then came up with the bright idea to move closer to Foxton Locks. But to make sure there would be a mooring to go into, I took Paddy with me for a walk down the towpath to check if there was any room. I need not have worried, there was plenty of space. The reason we were both worried about room, was because when we arrived at the Black Horse Bridge, we saw two fishermen carting all their stuff down the towpath, so we thought there may have been a fishing match on. That worry was unfounded, so I rang Keith and he moved our boat down to where Paddy and I were waiting. As the afternoon has worn on the weather has taken a distinct turn for the wetter, and as I type the rain is pounding on the roof.

What weekends are made of.

Hi Friends and Fellow Bloggers.

It was an absolutely glorious Saturday. The sun was out and even though it was chilly it was a typical Autumnal day. Friday we moved off of the 48 hour moorings near Union Wharf and moved on to the Logan Street Wharf moorings. The Wharf is no longer in use for what it was built for. It was used as part of Woodford's Woodyard. The main part of the yeard was in Union Wharf. Logan Street Wharf was not so grand and by the 1940's it was only producing bean sticks and fire wood. I feel that being here unloading coal to customers, we are giving it a new life. The yard itself was given over to housing, so all that remains is the stone Wharf, which is very sad. Still it makes an excellent mooring for us and our customers who come to us by car to collect their coal. Early hours there was I snoozing away, only to be woken by loud voices and footsteps. From what I could hear it was a youngish couple, probably on the way home from the pub, as the female sounded a little worse for wear.The young man said "Oh look its the coal boat".The young woman's reply was "What's a coal boat?"He replied " The people on this boat carry coal and deliver it up and down the system"Whether she understood what he said I have no idea, because he then asked her to follow him. I hope they got home safely, because it was about 2am.I did manage to doze back off to sleep and the next thing I knew it was around 6.30am and time for a cuppa. (it is becoming a habit). Once up and about, Paddy had his walk first up the towpath. Several times when moored along here, we have met this man on his bike with four dogs in tow. How on earth he manages to ride his bike and tow the dogs along at the same time, I really do not know. One of these days one of the dogs will see something interesting in the reeds by the canal and he will be dragged into the water. Probably kicking and screaming. It is not an advisable way to take your dogs out for exercise. After breakfast the jobs of the day were discussed and first on the list was the oil and filter change on the generator. Because the oil was cold it took ages and ages for it to drain out of the generator, so whilst this took place Keith contacted ATS to enquire if our wheels had been repaired, as we really need our sack barrow at the moment. Thankfully he was informed they were ready for collection, so off he trotted with his rucksack to collect wheels and new tyres. What we did not envisiage was the cost of the replacement tyres and inner tubes. The bill came to over £80, which seems an awful lot to me, but they did have to be ordered in. We need the sack barrow so there wsas nothing for it but to pay the man. Whilst Keith was picking himself up off the ATS floor from the shock of the price, I was sorting out coal for a regular customer, who we supplied last year, he always collects his coal in his van. Keith came back from ATS, so we had some lunch and then put a new filter and new oil in the generator. That is another job jobbed for a while. Just sat down to do my online Tesco shop when a new customer called for some coal. Saturday was a great day, which ended with us watching the TV.

Sunday morning and the sun is shining. There was mist rolling on the surface of the water and the birds were singing, it does not get much better than this.
Having done the usual things first thing in the morning, we also made an alteration to our back cabin stove chimney, because with the butterfly baffle in the chimney it keeps clogging up, so we have taken it out and are going to try and run the fire without it. It will make my life so much easier when it comes to cleaning the chimney out, well this is what I am hoping.
We left the Logan Street Wharf mooring at 9.30 and set off to find friends Jenny and Jim, who required coal. No sooner we had left the mooring, we were stuck in tickover as we passed wall to wall fishermen, who were involved in a fishing competition. One of the gentlemen asked "Are you the only one".
I replied "As far as I know". What I did not know was there would be a dozen boats coming past an hour later, as they left the Union Wharf at Market Harborough. I bet the fishing match was not best pleased. Approaching Saunt's Bridge. It was picturesque under the trees.In the shade of the tree's it was a little on the nippy side, but in the sun it was glorious. Last night the temperature got down to 2.2 C, so a little chilly to say the least. I actually love this sort of weather. As we came under Saunt's bridge, lazing in the sun up against a tree was this beautiful cat. Clearly they were enjoying the sunshine, which was nice and warm.
On approaching the Gallow Hill stretch we saw nb Jolly Rodger moored up. Jenny and Jim were blacking their boat, so we moored up in front of them and unloaded their coal. It was a good opportunity to have a natter. It is always nice to catch up on peoples news and of course any gossip. The gossip was a bit light on the ground, but their news filled the time spent chatting. We decided it was such a beautiful spot that we would stay put for the day.I was about to make a coffee when I started to watch this vehicle spraying the field opposite us. What bothered me is what the farmer was spraying on his field. It looked a little Florescent to me. Maybe I will be glowing in the dark later, either that or I will grow an extra head overnight.
I mentioned the fishing competition, well as we stood chatting to Jenny and Jim the flow tiller of boats began to pour past us. I commented to one of the boaters "I bet the fishermen loved you lot"
His reply was "They were pulling their hair out". A dozen boats passed us by as they headed back to Crick after a weekend out. Later on the fishermen will have the hire boats to contend with, as they head back to the basin for the Monday morning turn around. Unfortuately if fishermen want to fish on the canal, they will have to put up with boats passing all the time. We have to put up with running in tickover as we pass rod after rod and we do not complain. Many of the fishermen we meet and greet are very polite, but you do also get some miserable buggers.
So here we are at Gallow Hill in the sunshine. it is lovely here and we have a fantastic TV signal, so I can watch the X-Factor tonight. My money is on Wagner and Aiden going tonight, but what do I know?
On the subject of the X-Factor. I wish Cher Lloyd would do more than just rap. I am fed up with that now. I would just love to hear her sing. Katie did very well last night and I felt that she showed why she should be in this final. My favourite though was Mary Byrne. She has the most amazing voice.
Oh well off now to do something with my Sunday afternoon.

Friday 15 October 2010

Trains and People Watching.

Hi Friends.

Yesterday we caught a train from Market Harborough Station to Kettering, as Keith had an appointment with his Urologist.
The news from the Consultant was good and Keith has been signed off, which is excellent news. We know his condition is one which can come back at anytime, but at least now we know how to treat it. We did a bit of retail therapy whilst in Kettering and had some lunch at our favourite Chinese Buffet, Lee Garden. I even bought some Christmas Cards and some lights for our tree. I tried to hold off buying anything just yet for the big day, but they were all bargains and as I like a bargain I just had to go for it. We caught the train back to Market Harborough, having sat in Kettering station for an hour as we just missed the previous train.

Are you a people watcher?
Do you sit watching people, and wonder what they are doing and why they are wearing the clothes they are?

I do this all the time. I love when I am out to sit in a cafe or on a bus or train and ponder about the people I see.
Such a thing happened yesterday, when Keith and I were sat for an hour at the train station waiting for our ride to arrive. A very well groomed gentleman arrived on the platform opposite us. He was dressed in a Black Suit, White Shirt and a Black dickie bow tie. With his pure White hair he looked very distinguished and stood out from the crowd. He was also carrying a tan shoulder bag.
It got us wonder, where was he heading for, was it Nottingham or London?
Was he a band member, and if so was he carrying a flute in his bag?
Keith wondered if he played the Triangle.
I then thought he looked like
Dick Van Dyke, he was the same sort of height, build and hair colour. Keith reckoned he looked like Howard Keel.
Perhaps he was going to some posh party in London, we mulled over all sorts of things as we watched him wait for his train. For all we knew he may have been someone well known and yet it seemed to us that no one else on that platform had even spotted this distinguished gentleman, they were all to wrapped up in their own little worlds.
Have you ever wondered about what people do for a living, just by what they are wearing or carrying??

So here we are at the end of another week and it has been a busy day for us so far. Keith took the trolley down to Brandon's the tool hire company and bought a new Gas bottle. Gas has certainly gone up since the Summer it was just over £17 for a 13 kg bottle then, it is now £20, but that is still cheaper than the Marina's and Boat Yards. With the Gas bottle stowed away, we then headed off down into town to get a few more bits for the boat. I also need to collect a pair of trousers from the market, which I took back as the sip broke back in May. The stall holder very kindly got them repaired for me and did not even charge me for the zip. Mind you we do use him a lot for our clothing, as his combat trousers are the cheapest around. As we were at the indoor market, we had a coffee and a sausage bap each. They are made from local produce and are always yummy.
Yesterday evening I wanted a shower, but the fitting on the hose which connects the hose to the shower head broke, so it was a short, sharp shower, I only got my hair washed and then gave up. We got a new hose today from Homebase, so it will be full steam ahead with showers tonight. With all our bits bought, we are now back onboard and relaxing for a bit.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Food and a little bit of history

Hi Folks.

It arrived, the food that is. Mr Tesco man arrived in his van and unloaded my order. With it loaded on to his trolley he then wheeled it to the boat, where it was unloaded in through the Galley window, where Keith stacked it. I then had the job of putting it all away. This shop should keep us going for a couple of weeks all being well. Having a Tesco delivery is so easy and makes my life so much easier.
Shopping all put away, I warmed up some homemade Chicken and Vegtable soup for lunch, which was very yummy.
After lunch I walked up to the swing bridge to see what progress had been made, to find the bridge itself had been lifted off and put to one side and the workmen from May Gurney were busy working. I noticed that they were trying to get the mini digger down onto the swing bridge platform, so thought I would stand and watch. They made a handmade ramp out of blocks of wood, which did not look at all stable.
I wonder if they did a risk assessment?
Or bothered with health and safety?
The guy on the digger was verbally worried about coming down the homemade wooden steps. Even one of the other workmen said "That was a squeeky bum moment". He did make it safe and sound and work commenced. I was told that they should have the swing bridge open on the 1st November, with new safety measures. So watch this space for whether it actually works.Having left the workmen to it, I took a walk through the village, which is stunning. The view of the Black Horse Pub and Church must be one of the most popular views and is probably on many holiday snaps. The one thing that got my attention was this menorial plaque on the Village Hall. I never knew that a Lancaster had crashed in Foxton and wanted to see what I could find out.
This is what I have found out so far.

At 03.10 on 9th April 1945, Lancaster Bomber ND949 of 630 Squadron RAF, returning from a raid on Lutzkendorf, crashed at the village of Foxton, 3Km NW of Market Harborough, Leicestershire. All 7 crew members, 6 of whom were Australian, were killed.

SGT. B.Gibbons RAFVR. Aged 21 (1625259) Foster son of Raymond Cyril Gray and Florence Beatrice Gray, of Letchworth, Hertfordshire.
F/S H.E.Burton RAAF

F/O R. Martin RAAF
F/O W.Forrester RAAF
F/S A.E.Bowman RAAF
F/S F.J.Howlett RAAF

This story has really touched my heart, so I plan on researching it further. If anyone knows anything further to what I have, would you please let me know. These brave men gave their lives so we may be free.
I have had a wonderful day. Tomorrow we will be heading for Market Harborough.

The best start to my day.

Hi Friends old and new.

Tuesday morning and a pleasant start to my day, after a hot night on the boat. Now get your mind out of the gutter. It was hot due to the fact that we had both stoves going. During in the evening, we were a little chilly in the saloon and with it being shower night, I lit the saloon stove, so that we could have a warm shower room. It was so nice to have a shower in the warmth, but the heat built up through the night and at one point Keith got up and opened the slide a little to allow some of the heat out of the back cabin. The back cabin stove is always closed right down over night, so it does not create to much heat, but even that seemed to be working on overtime.
We got up to a nice warm boat and even the water is nice and hot as well. As it was way to early to get up at 6am, I made us the usual cuppa, which we enjoyed in bed. It was gone 8am before we got out of bed. The Foxton mooring is pretty quiet, allbeit for the dogs barking on and off in a neighbouring garden. I am sure they have no idea why they are barking, they just do it for no reason, it must drive the neighbours nuts. Anyway we are off tomorrow, so we are none to bothered.
After Breakfast, I took Paddy for his morning stroll. This time it was up the towpath and out into a field, which has a designated footpath across it. Foxton has some lovely little walks around it. They all have yellow posts marking the routes, so you would never get lost. Pad was off across the field like a loonie and no amount of calling bought him to heel. Once I caught up with him, I discovered that he was paddling in a stream. When I say paddling, I don't mean actually standing in the water, Pad just does not like water that much. He was standing on the bank pawing at the water, as if it was gonna come out and play with him, daft mutt. The views across the field are quiet beautiful and will get better as the leaves change to their Autumn colours.

As we walked back to the boat, I collected sticks for the fire and Paddy had his trained on the ground, something smelt very nice to him. No idea what it was and I actually dread to think what it could have been. Back on board it was time to sort the fires out, so I emptied out the ash pan in the back stove and made the fire up. There was smoke bellowing out of the chimney, this is a sight I absolutely love at this time of the year. Fire all done, so I filled up the Copper kettle and placed that on the stove, so that it will boil for a coffee later.
I am at present waiting for a text message from Tesco, to say when my food delivery is coming. I booked it for between 11am and 1pm, but they usually text me to tell me which hour it will arrive in. Our cupbards will then be full again for a week or so.
Have just heard on the local news that the agony aunt Claire Rayner has died at the age of 79. Claire wrote many columns over the years and appeared on many a day time show. She will be sadly missed. My thoughts go out to her family and husband Des, who she had been married to for some 53 years.
My morning is now complete. I have just won the 3 of a kind competition on Hfm and got my song played. Thanks Dave Irving for playing 'I knew I loved you before I met you' by Savage Garden. You do not get expensive prizes for winning this competition, it is just a bit of fun and it is the first time I have ever come first wooooooo hooooooooo.

Just had this posted on facebook by a friend and in many ways it is so true.

TO NON DOG OWNERS who may visit my home and complain about my Dog...
1) He lives here, you don't.
2) If you don't want his hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture, that's why they call it 'Fur'-niture.
3) I love my pet more than I like most people.
4) To you he is an animal, to me he is my young 'un, who is short, hairy, walks on ...all fours and loves me unconditionally :)

Thanks Phil for that, it made me smile.

Monday 11 October 2010

Holding back the water.

I like many of you have probably seen flood defenses on the TV and wondered how on earth a bit of plastic and some scaffolding can hold back water, well having seen it for myself, I can vouch for the fact that it does.
On the Grand Union Leicester Line, following temporary repairs to a leak into a cross canal culvert north of Bridge 63 it has become necessary to close the canal to Navigation between Bridge 63 and 64 so that a permanent repair can be made to the culvert and bridge. Temporary fabric dams were installed on Thursday 30th September and the British Waterways Major Works Team dewatered the canal. The works are expected to be completed in order to allow the canal to reopen to navigation on Friday 15th October. With boats now moored either side of the repair work, people will be pleased to get on the move again. Many of them probably heading back to their Winter moorings.We walked down to have a look at how the work was progressing and were amazed to see how the sheeting is holding back the water. It is really impressive and makes it much easier for the work to be carried out. Having repaired the culvert, it was discovered that the footbridge was in a sorry state, so they are now repairing that as well. Ordinarily British Waterway's carries out repair work over the Winter, but occasionally there have to be emergency stoppages to do major repair like this one. With the Canals being so old, and more boats coming on to the system, I think we can expect more of this sort of thing to happen over the coming years.

Not a good blogging weekend.

Hiya Friends, Countrymen and fellow bloggers.

I was going to say Friends, Romans and Countrymen, but it did not seem right LOL. I did not post over the weekend, because we had a signal which was so up and down, actually more off than on is a better description, it drove me and the other half nuts, so we did not bother with the computers much. Out weekend was spent at the top of Foxton Locks and a lovely weekend it was too. We had set off from the Welford Arm in what can best be described miserable weather. It was not raining, but was extremely overcast. By the time we had reached Foxton it had brightened up a little and as the weekend wore on it got better and better. Yesterday was more like a Summer day than the beginning of Autumn. Being moored up for the weekend, meant we got a few jobs done on the boat. We also supplied coal to people as they passed as well. We have always made it our policy not to move at weekends in the Summer months, as it is usually very busy with hire boats and private boats just out for a weekend cruise from the marinas. The weekend is also the perfect time for me to get into my cooking mode. This past weekend I made homemade Vegetable soups, and an Apple Crumble all cooked in or on the back cabin stove.
Marmite and Paddy spent their weekend lounging around in the sunshine. Paddy always loves laying out on the back counter, where he can watch the world go by and wag his tail at passers-by. Marmite on the other hand was on her long lead, watching the bird life. In the hedgerow there was a family of Wren's and a lovely Robin who seemed fascinated my the cat. Marmite is not particularly scared of dogs, probably because she has been bought up with Paddy. But as we all know not all dogs like cats and yesterday Marmite almost came off the worst for wear, when another boaters dog tried to grab her. Now normally Marmite would stand her ground with any size dog as she has seen off a German Shepard before now. But this little Terrier who was not on a lead made a grab for her, she hissed at it and then dived into the engine room. In one way I was pretty cross with the dog owner for not controling their dog, but on the other hand it did teach Marmite that not all dogs like cats. The woman did apologise and then walked on telling her dog off. It would have been far better if she had just put him on his lead in the first place. After he had gone, Marmite went back to rolling in the dirt and watching the bords, so it obviously did not affect her to much
Later in the afternoon Keith and I were minding our own business, when we were greeted by Teri and Dave friends of ours who were out enjoying the sunshine and happened to find us on their walk. Teri and Dave help with
The Narrowboat Trust working boats Nuneaton and Brighton. We got to know them a few years ago whilst at the Little Venice Cavalcade and have remained good friends with them. It was a lovely surprise to see them both.

Sunday's tends to be a day for baking and cleaning the inside of the boat. Yesterday was a day for cleaning out cupboards and re-arranging them. Keith cleaned out one of the cupboards which has computer stuff and printer paper in it. It now has some computer stuff in it and small fridge storage boxes, which freed up another cupboard, which is now being used for bread, biscuits and crisps. I am sure that we can get rid of other things we no longer need. I decided that the bathroom needed a good old clean. it is a room which tends to get over looked, because it is so tiny and with the door closed it is out of sight out of mind. But it got cleaned to within and inch of its life and now sparkles. As the weekend drew to a close, my thoughts turned to the weekend ahead, which are going to be busy with deliveries and things to get done.

Monday morning and the sun was shining when we got up, but the strong breeze was very chilly. We set off for the top lock at Foxton, where we moored up whilst I went to find the Lock Keeper. It is always the case that the Lock Keeper is never where you need him to be, so I found myself walking down to the bottom of the flight, where Terry was opening paddles to allow some water down. Terry was still in his shorts, but was wearing a heavy duty fluorescent yellow jacket. I enquired as to whether his legs were cold, and he told me he was fine. But I can see it will not be much longer before the long trousers will be out. A boat was already heading down the flight and Terry told us to follow them down as there was nothing waiting at the bottom. I walked back up and shouted to Keith to get ready to come down. The rundown the flight was very pleasant in the sunshine, but I did need my thick waistcoat on to keep out the cold breeze. As we got to the bottom nb Steadfast was waiting to come into the bottom lock. I left the gates for them and walked on to the swing bridge. We are now moored at Black Horse Bridge, where we are now waiting for customers to arrive to collect their coal and I have a new customer to chat too. The sun is still shining, but there is a chilly breeze blowing a long the canal. At least we have a rocl solid signal for both the computer and TV, so all is well for posting and watching the box later. I am now off to do some lunch and then we will see what the afternoon brings.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Spring Sunshine all the way.

Hi Friends.

Thursday morning we were awake early and the sun was pouring through the pigeon box portholes. This boded well for the day, as the plan was to head for the Welford Arm, where we would drop off 20 bags of coal to the Wharf Inn. We always supply Alex with coal and more often than not have lunch there as well. Before we could even think about setting off, breakfast had to be sorted and of course the animals needed walking and feeding. God forbid I should forget to feed them, especially Marmite, who makes sure I know in no uncertain terms that she has no food in her bowl. Paddy thankfully is a little more laid back, he usually comes back from his walk and sits in his bed waiting for his biscuits. After all that, I stoked the back stove, so that it would spring into some sort of life and then it was time to depart our over night mooring, which was very peaceful.
It was not long before we met another boat coming towards us at a bridge 'ole. This time it was a Viking Afloat hire boat and they slowed down so that we may go through the bridge 'ole first, which was very nice of them. Immediately behind them was another boat, closely followed by another. As we passed the hire boat we said "Thank you" and went on our way. no sooner the hire boat tried to enter the bridge'ole it got stuck on the mud and this turned into panic as the first following boat bore down on them. Out came the poles, which were not helping the situation. The lady steering the following boat was not holding back, she kept going and was almost touching them before she decided to pull back a little. The poor couple on the hire boat must have been getting very frustrated and yet this woman was doing nothing to help the situation. The 3rd boat then joined in the queue and that was when we went out of sigh. For all I know they are still there now.it was a day of meeting boats at bridge'oles, as we met boat after boat, some who allowed us through and others we slowed down for to allow them through. There were no collisions today.The British Waterway's contractors were out in force cutting the grass and strimming the edges. It looked like they were following us along the canal. The smell of newly mown grass filled the air and with the birds singing, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was Spring.The local farmers had also been out and trimmed the hedges around their fields. One farmer looks like he got over excited with his hedge cutter, because the hedge cutter has tried to trim the British Waterways Winding Hole Sign.
As we made our way towards the Welford Arm, we were hailed by a boater who wanted some coal. So we pulled in, in front of them and supplied them with what they needed. Come lunchtime we turned into the Welford Arm and made our way down through the single lock. I then left Keith on the 14 day moorings, whilst I walked down to the end to see if there was any moorings available. One boat was winding and the wharf moorings were empty, which took me by surprise, because normally we cannot get in anywhere near the wharf and have to unload our coal on the water point. I called Keith on my phone, allowing it to ring a few times, this was our signal to say come ahead. He winded the boat and we moored up. Having locked up the boat, our first port of call was the Wharf Inn for lunch and a pint, which was very welcome. For some reason I fancied Fish and Chips. I enjoyed a lovely piece of Haddock with Chips and Keith had a Curry, all cooked by Darren . Lunch consumed we then unloaded the coal ordered by the pub. We loaded up their trolley and then then our sack barrow, which only made it to the car park, before it blew a tyre grrrrrrrrrrr. This is not what we need at this time of the year. On closer inspection, the other tyre is not looking good either. This trolley is not even a year old and so I am not best pleased.
We have had a fantastic day, selling coal and meeting new people, who will hopefully remain customers over this coming Winter.


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