Tuesday 30 April 2013

Global freezing

Sunny and almost warm this morning. Health-wise yesterday was a good day with no dizzy events at all, typical after getting a private appointment with a "local" neurologist this week, just to spend a fortune telling him I am OK. Apparently the guy has a "dry sense of humour" so hopefully we can both laugh it off. Talking of fortunes, and before you ask, I do not have a clue how we finance private treatment. The cunning plan is to see this neurologist privately first and then jump his queue for treatment under the NHS. Will it work? If not we'll have to sell the boat (hopefully at a profit)and accept conventional retirement whilst seeing the country via our free bus passes. Not exciting, but what the hell. Writing a blog from the backseat of a bus has less appeal to me, particularly as I will need to rename it "Slow bus round Britain". "I am stuck in a traffic jam on the A50 near the middle of Stoke looking at Eddie Stobart and Waitrose lorries" has less impact than "I am in a queue for lock 50 on the Shropshire Union canal in the middle of nowhere and amazing scenery". On a brighter note (excuse yet another pun) Russian scientists are now predicting the start of a new ice age. What a surprise. The earth has never before gone from being hot to cold and versa-visa, without the need for carbon overload. I've wasted my life by not being a scientist.

Monday 29 April 2013

Gale force

Sunny and very windy. The forecast says more of the same which does not bode well for cruising. In high winds a 62 footer tends to have a mind of her own (typical woman?). We may introduce the cats to TARDIS Two sometime this week but stay in the comfort of the marina, delaying our sailaway yet again. You wait all this time for her to be financed and built, only for nature to intervene at the last moment. Very frustrating. The 2 hour trip home from Chester took 3 hours due to a major accident in one of Stoke's underpasses, resulting in hundreds of lorries and cars being diverted onto small roads (with lots of roundabouts) in foul weather. Great fun. I noted the Travelodge in Chester is modelled on the Hilton in Park Lane, London and the transport cafe on the A500 The Ritz. Jeans not permitted and ties compulsory. Shear exhaustion ensured a good night's sleep and extended lay-in. It's easy to forget how tiring two young children can be, especially when you get to our great age. The weekend raised the question of my fitness to control a narrow boat (and avoid falling into the canal) once again. The fits/dizzy spells/vacant moments increased in number and intensity, in some instances requiring assistance from family and/or furniture to stay upright. Lynne is in attack mode and already attempting to get someone in the medical profession to listen and take positive action, or any action for that matter. I know we are in a litigation society but that does not preclude taking action to improve/save lives, surely? We are also attempting to change hospitals in the hope neurologists in Leicestershire are more caring and competent than southerners. Having become asset rich and extremely cash poor we have more than enough to keep our minds active and functioning without the need to pursue a decent service from the NHS.......................UPDATE: Lynne's attack mode has got results within 2 hours. I now have an appointment pending with the top neurological guy in the NHS in this region and an actual private appointment with the same guy on Thursday. Eat your heart out David Cameron. We're all in it together, even if it means selling the boat and getting one of those old-fogey electric scooters instead.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Strawberry shortcake

Overcast and cold again with no sign of cloud formations, unlike yesterday when the sky was full of them. Heaven for cas members I suppose. Having watched three episodes of strawberry shortcake this morning I can appreciate how educational it is, like a junior version of the Simpsons. Peppa Pig is similar so don't feel guilty about letting your young ones watch them.
This house is like a smaller version of Toys R Us but with the same stock of toys. You can't move without falling over one. We are back to normality at home later today when rest will be top of our priorities. A visit to TARDIS Two is called for.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Hot doggity

Staying with my granddaughters in Chester, my sort of city, very upmarket. Working class bank managers, middle class merchant bankers, upper class friends of Richard Branson. Weather sunny but cold. Chester has lots of steps and cobbles, sometimes together. Not oldies friendly (us) or children friendly (grandchildren). Lots of history (not us). Lots of fabulous views (not us again). We are staying in a huge Edwardian house with electric gates, as you would expect. The rooms are many and huge requiring extension ladders to paint the ceilings. Despite the area being posh the local shop is a Co-Op, which makes me feel at home. I know my place. Having watched Children's Disney this morning the title song is now firmly entrenched in my brain unfortunately. Long time-no hear. Had a Co-Op dizzy spell last evening, supported by my son and a Walkers crisp display stand. Another in the shower this morning but no harm done. This is getting ridiculous. Soon I'll need a life jacket in the shower. This grandchildren thing is very time consuming and tiring, but at least we can give them back and go home sometime.

Friday 26 April 2013


In Chester today. Sunny but with chilly wind. Our infamous TV guy failed to turn up at TARDIS Two and also failed to contact us. Two and a half hours after his appointment I text him to Confirm his arrival time.His reply was that he had double booked himself and could next visit on Thursday midday, to which I reluctantly agreed. The company name is Travelsat and for obvious reasons I am unable to recommend them. Chester is a fabulous city and far more up-market than Birmingham where our eldest son moved from, but a land-fill site would also fit the bill. Has anyone noticed how Muzak has infiltrated everywhere? Crap copies of crap original songs from the year dot. supermarkets,(radio sainsbury) Banks (HSBC radio), radio B&Q, my dentist and my doctors waiting room.hospital A&E departments and so on. Even M&S for gods sake. Motorway service station public loos. Where will it end? Answers on a postcard. 4 dizzy spells today, worse than ever despite our decision to cut my lamotrigine dosage. Lynne is now in attack mode so the NHS will need to be careful on Monday.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Dead end street

Same old weather today. No sign of the yellow blob. Our infamous chatty TV man is due aboard TARDIS Two this morning in an attempt to get a TV picture on our large set, something missing since he fitted the new aerial over a week ago, at great expense. We will take our earplugs. From there we aim to spend what's left of the weekend with our eldest son and granddaughters in Chester, a city we love. One of our boat trips will pass there. Hopefully I can get my iPad to work there so Sunday will not be blog-free. With my computer skills watch this space (or not, as the case may be). St. George's hospital has sent me down a one way street, or into a lay-by to be more exact, leaving me to my own devices regarding medication. So be it. I have dropped the doseage of my anti-seizure drug in an attempt to lessen the side-affects and I aim to gradually phase out my happy pills in the hope TARDIS Two will replace them. If anything serious happens I am sure St. George's will rush me back in to sort me out before shunting me out again to fend for myself with Nature's help. (If I escape the dead-end street/lay-by syndrome again). The NHS's aim is to save lives then wait to repeat the operation later (excuse yet another pun) It is a good endless training exercise for new interns I suppose. Have a good weekend.

Joanna Lumley, The Krays, Dresden

Overcast today. Doctors appointment this morning but no change of drugs. Same old, same old. It's enough to make you depressed. I have finally got my head round owning a boat. Until now it had seemed like a very pleasant dream but unreal. Almost like having a very long and loving affair with Joanna Lumley (with apologies to Lynne). After cleaning Tardis Two inside and out we spent some time with the craftsmen in the Bubble inn yesterday afternoon, and good fun it was too. How they retain a sense of humour working in an environment resembling Dresden I'll never know. Years ago when I worked in a down-market part of London, on occasions I started work at 6.00am having commuted for an hour beforehand. Later in the morning I would have breakfast in a downmarket cafe and often met Mad Frankie Frazer, the infamous hit-man for the Kray twins. Despite his scarey past he was a very nice person, especially over the breakfast table............ but I think I've lost the plot. Sorry. The link with MCC seems to have disappeared into the ether. As previously stated, Frankie Frazer had a nice side.... We're off to MCC yet again today. The excuse this time is to meet our eldest son and two granddaughters on Tardis Two.

Wednesday 24 April 2013


Sunny but cold. Off to Tardis Two today for an interior clean-up following a busy weekend. On reflection the weekend went well and we discovered......1) The Tardis Two throttle will only stay on 10,000 or 15,000 revs, refusing to accommodate anything in-between. Tickover at 10,000 is far too fast and gives a perfectly reasonable cruising speed but is too fast for locks or mooring. I've asked MCC to make some adjustments......2) winding holes are too far apart, particularly when ignorant pillocks moor in some of them........3) The Trent and Mersey is no great shakes unless your interests include breweries, cooling towers ancient pumping stations and sheep.....4) It would be great if the newly formed Canal and River Trust could prioritise cutting back the overhanging trees or make the canal one-way only.......5) Make water points accessible. The photo's show a navigator-eye view of the canal and the splendour of Shobhall Fields with literally thousands of daffodils and kingfisher trail start/finish.I am still recovering from my soprano-inducing life saving gear.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Crotch strap

Very sunny and reasonably warm today. We're home on dry land having survived a long-weekend cruising. The weekend started sunny and almost summer-like only for that pesky cold wind to return requiring sweaters, then coats and finally central heating, which worked throughout. Tardis Two was facing the opposite way we wanted to go. The winding hole at Stensen lock is silted-up and can only service a 45 footer. The next one through the lock could fit a 62 footer if two live-aboards were not moored in it. Previous to leaving the marina I had walked down hoping the warn them I was due to turn round there, so expect contact at some point. The first tatty boat had no-one at home, whilst the other obviously had people aboard who were protected by a large fenced garden and locked gates. It was impossible to attract their attention and their little terrier in the garden refused to bark or make some sort of attention raising commotion. I gave up and returned to the marina saying "sod it" under my breath. Once through the lock I approached the winding hole with all the intention of turning, whatever. However, Lynne got cold feet and requested I go the the next listed at Swarkestone, almost a mile away. By the time we arrived the light was fading and the winding hole listed in the Pearsons guide was nothing of the sort. It is now a wharf filled with tuppaware boats. We passed several signs saying no turning allowed in the wharf, originately the end of the now abandoned Derby canal. As we arrived I breathed "sod it" and started my turning routine. I can proudly confirm the turn was successfully completed in a very confined place without touching another boat. Bow thrusters are wonderful. We moored nearby and could not get the new aerial to work. It was a cold night.The next day we did the return journey past the bland scenery we had viewed the day before mooring near the Dragon. We resisted the urge to visit. A cold night and morning when we set off for Burton Upon Trent and Shobnall marina where we bought another centre rope, a gangplank and more fenders. It has to be said the Trent & Mersey canal is not the most picturesque or interesting I have seen and needs some TLC, particularly cutting back the overhanging trees on one side which severely narrow the available channel. (not the best cruising in a new boat with "soft" paint). Wildlife-wise we passed 3 swans nests, ducklings and swallows (the first of the year. Better late than never). We have yet to see a heron or a kingfisher, apart from two concrete ones on top of totem poles at the start of the Kingfisher trail. Again, lots of dogs and joggers. Whilst moored at Shobnall Fields we were woken very early by two mallards pecking loudly on the boat hull. Lynne went out to investigate despite my fears of her falling in, but she scared them off from the stern deck without the need to walk along the boat side (not recommended). Another note for boat equipment... a shotgun with night-sights. We stupidly stopped at Eggington wharf for water. You could not imagine a more ludicrous place to put a water point. You either have to moor in the narrowest part of the canal under a bridge or somehow reverse into the wharf full of tuppaware boats. I chose the latter, only to find Tardis Two was too long to get out again. Various boaters offered advice, all different. After a long struggle they all advised us to go back to the winding hole we had left many hours ago, so we yet again saw the same piece of canal, Boring or what? It was quite cold when we finally arrived back at Stensen, mooring perfectly. We again attempted to get the bloody TV dish to work, having spent 3 days TV-less. I'll call the guy today. I also removed 2 Morrisons bags, some baler twine and non-definable lumps of plastic from the propeller. The water was very cold. Health-wise it was not a bad weekend apart from a dizzy spell entering Dallow Lane lock which caused me to hit the closed gate, fortunately causing no damage to boat or lock. Two other dizzy spells occurred but with less serious consequences. Margaret had bought me an early birthday present by way of a lifejacket, an over the shoulder mini version in dark blue rather than Hi-Vis, which I hate. It has a crotch strap which prevents it floating away without me when or if I fall in. It also inflates itself once it hits the water. For the first day it was very uncomfortable until I discovered how to adjust it, delaying my soprano career for some time.

Saturday 20 April 2013

To infinity and beyond 1

Sunny and warm this morning which means our cruising weekend is a certainty (famous last words. I feel a Michael Fish moment coming on). In response to several queries (oops!) I must confirm I am neither a member of the Cloud appreciation Society or the Pylon appreciation Society, although I share their sentiments and visions of the future. Up bright and early today as a trial run. Bought a spanner to fit the gas bottles on Tardis Two (sad, eh?) We are now almost fully equipped I think, gangplank excepted. The painted pole looks brilliant, more Rolls Royce than Reliant Robin. Our guest this weekend, apart from being a DIY fanatic, was once a scout leader so Lynne and I are hoping to have some knot tying instruction (we are both crap at knots, the most important skill for boaters). We may even be experts at pitching tents by Monday but we hope to never need putting it into practice. As previously mentioned Tardis Two has yet to be connected to the internet so this weekend will be blog free, but if we're back in time and dry I'll scramble one together Monday night. We hope to get connected to the outside world before we head off to Wigan Pier (yes, it really does exist apparently) We'll save all our small change for the slot machines. Factor 10 already on-board. We discovered last weekend Tardis Two is missing double glazing as per specification but Eddie explained it was deleted several months ago to help fit within our tight budget and he must have forgotten to tell us, as you do. It's not the end of the world but part of our "savings" will disappear as we will need to invest in cloths to wipe condensation off the windows each morning. We received another dreaded letter from the naval insurance company this morning apologising for their previous cock-ups. Be warned they also own Bell,Diamond and Elephant.co.uk Have a good weekend and remember the sombrero and suncream.

Friday 19 April 2013

Start to finish

As promised I have a show of Tardis Two from start to finish, courtesy of Craig, one of the MCC fitters, who unfortunately has now left. I assume there is a limit to how many legs you lose to a pitbull. Today we moved her nearer the marina entrance, filled the water tank, added a second gas bottle, linked her to a power supply to maintain the batteries at a decent level and emptied the toilet cassettes. She is all ready to go for our weekend adventures. The sun was out today and the wind has virtually stopped, which bodes well for a couple of days (we hope). The narrowboat pole has been painted so all we need now is a gangplank. At near 12 feet long it will have to be obtained from somewhere near the canal system as our car lacks a roof rack. Along with the weather I feel brighter today and looking forward to the weekend. After that I will be looking forward to our long-term departure once I get my GP appointment and a few family issues out of the way. Roll-on.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Ying Tong Diddle I Ho

Good morning from a very,very windy Leicestershire. I've decided on an early blog today hoping yesterday's has not yet encouraged any of you with a similar disposition to jump off your nearest motorway or river bridge. If you hadn't noticed I ended the day in a bad place, but things are brighter today. I awoke with "Something about Mary" and "Life of Brian" implanted in my brain with two "stuck in my head songs" courtesy of Spike Milligan (see title) and "There's a Place" by John Lennon and that other bloke (with apologies to Terry). It's all about mind over matter and me blocking out the demons. No pressure there then. On a happier note, Tardis Two is now in full working order with pristine paintwork again, so that side of things is brighter.(no pun intended) Once I owned a boat I promised myself I would not look down on hire-boaters, but that went out the window when one scraped Tardis Two moored at Stensen, (totally out of the way) looking for a water point. Fortunately Karen from Wegonandunnit vented her blue anger on the unfortunate "captain", saving me the trouble. The hire boat continued down the cut without filling it's water tank. Serves them right, bloody amateurs. We plan a weekend cruising again but the windy conditions may prevent it. But let's look on the bright side of life (another song title for today?). Our license and registration plates arrived this morning from the Canal and River Trust so we are now fully legal. The lads loved the cakes, by the way.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Shared thermal underwear

Overcast and cooler today. We're off to MCC later delivering even more lemon cakes for the boat fitting crew. I reckon they must have each put on a stone in weight since our boat building started. We still have a few things to take for Tardis Two. Every time we go something else springs to mind. We have a long weekend of cruising with friends planned this week, central heating and weather permitting. That sounds crazy for the middle of April. Global warming, (or climate change as is the new preferred definition) has a lot to answer for. I now wish I had bought shares in thermal underwear, if you'll excuse the lurid pictures conjured up in your mind. Craig, one of the fatter fitters, has kindly given us a photographic history of Tardis Two, of a far higher quality than mine, some of which I will share with you in due course. FOOTNOTE.............All the minor snags on Tardis Two had been rectified by the time we arrived at MCC. The lack of central heating was caused by a blocked valve in the bedroom (no jokes please) whilst the bowthruster fault was due to a lack of instruction. The paint repairs were perfect and she now looks pristine again, which is more than could be said of me. The day started OK for me but gradually slipped downhill as the it progressed, partly due to low blood sugar but also because of my increasing realisation of how important Lynne is to me. Not only has she moved heaven and earth to achieve Tardis Two but also worked tirelessly to complete the roman blinds for it. Bearing in mind her previous experience of sewing was replacing buttons on shirts or jackets the results are stunning. All of them are now in place with only fixing the press-studs remaining, highlighting my severe lack of DIY skills. I blame the lack of a battery powered screwdriver. I once owned one but the battery expired due to lack of use. A DIY fanatic is visiting this weekend, thank God. On top of all the aforementioned hassles Lynne also has to nursemaid me day and night, watching out for hypo's, fits, dizzy spells and suicidal moods. No great fun without respite. Our departure on the live-aboard adventure remains on-hold pending yet another pointless medical appointment and resolution of an important family issue. Lynne now worries the boat adventure may be beyond my current level of health, a thought also haunting me, having spent ages convincing myself the trip will inevitably improve my mental condition. Each delay seems to worsen the situation and makes my fight not to admit defeat more difficult. But beat it I will. The MCC fitters loved the cakes, by the way.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Missed cruising day

Warm and very sunny. The cool wind continues but at a much reduced velocity. A perfect cruising day. We stayed in Anstey for the night and travelled over to Tardis Two early in the morning to meet the man from Travelsat to fit our sky system. Several hours later and somewhat deafened (he spoke non-stop very loudly)we had a very smart satellite dish on the roof with the option of Sky on one TV and Freeserve on the other. What more could you wish for? No more moaning while I watch Arsenal at the expense of cooking or craft programmes. Tardis Two was still in the position we left her, securely tied to the bank, which was a relief. The central heating still doesn't work,(in April !!!) nor do the bow thrusters. We also discovered a water leak in the wet Cupboard (that is not a pun). We were asked to make a list of faults for Marian, Eddie's wife, to allow rectification whilst still at Stensen. A further invoice was not so much presented, more thrown. Think pit bull, wasp and swallowed. A light switch is now fitted in the rear toilet, making night trips far less hazardous and exciting. We previously could only have an illuminated midnight pee by flicking a trip switch near the rear door in pitch blackness. Eddie was as pleasant as ever. Think St Bernard/poodle hybrid. Two close friends paid a welcome visit and we cracked-on finishing fitting the blinds, which look fantastic. Full credit to Lynne for a wonderful job. We can now sleep and/or walk about naked without the fear of being spotted by late evening gongoozlers. I'm not sure who would get more of a shock, requiring the assistance of a paramedic. We aim to revisit Tardis Two tomorrow and pay our (last?) bill with further cruising planned for next weekend. Watch the weather change.

Monday 15 April 2013

A life on the canal wave

Sunny today, which is thoroughly frustrating as our first trial weekend with Tardis Two was undertaken with overcast skies and very high winds. As you can imagine the latter causes havoc steering a 62 ft narrowboat, particularly when she is brand new with immaculate paintwork, costs a small fortune and belongs to me. MCC had taken her out of the marina and moored her on the canal facing the way we wished to go, which was handy, particularly as the marina entrance looks as if a pooh stick would have difficulty passing through.It appears MCC had difficulty as Tardis Two had a large scrape, strangely on the side away from the bank, hence we only noticed when told by a boater opposite. We'll get them to touch-up the damage tomorrow when we return for the Sky TV gear to be fitted. We stayed on board overnight Friday. All went well until the central heating died. Paul Baldwin, the MCC owners son, popped in to find the central heating fault, which he confirmed was not due to anything we had done. The flick of a few switches apparently fixed the problem. The friendly owners of Wegonandunnit moored next door gave us loads of useful boating tips and equipment demonstrations, which were gratefully accepted. Two more roman blinds were successfully fitted but the front roller blind refused to co-operate; We simply hung it from hooks to enable us to sleep without being overlooked.Eventually we went in the general direction of Burton-on-Trent. Apart from having a stiff tiller (possibly due to the very large rudder) she handles very well. A little oversteer maybe, but no problem. We arrived and moored at Burton by 4.00pm. The central heating failed again, but luckily we had stocked-up with coal and Lynne got the multi-fuel stove going so we were very cosy overnight. The next morning after breakfast we headed to the nearby Shobnall marina for diesel and a few essential odds and sods, including a poker for the stove. Getting into the marina was a work of art, which the owner offered to do for me.I'm proud to say I managed it alone.The owner was incredibly helpful and gave us loads of information. Our tank should hold 250 litres but took 275, even though the fuel gauge had shown quarter full. We must have been running on fumes, despite Eddie assuring us it would get to Burton and back. The owner explained the central heating pump fuel pipe is considerably higher than the engine pipe and therefore had been starved of fuel, hence no central heating. It takes a woman. We set off back to Stensen with stove and central heating blazing away. We could have poached eggs in there or had a sauna. The trip back was uneventful until we inevitably moored-up for lunch at the Dragon. Mooring spaces were at a premium so we ended-up a few hundred yards away. The bank had no metalwork so we were forced to use the pins. The bank was also very soft thus the pins virtually sunk themselves. Off we went for lunch, returning to read the Sunday papers and snooze, only to be woken by an old man shouting from the bank. I immediately realised we were no longer beside the bank. Due to the wind the stern pin had pulled-out and we were across the cut but able to rectify the situation fairly quickly without inconveniencing other canal users ! Note the loosely moored scenario in the introduction blog. Wildlife-wise we passed the usual array of Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Herons, Swans(two sitting on eggs),domestic geese, rabbits, foxes and, inevitably, lots of dogs. We returned to Stensen only to discover our mooring space had been taken, but we stuck Tardis Two on the end, partly overhanging a winding hole (turning point) strictly against canal rules, but what the heck. Having emptied the chemical loos,the rubbish bin and loaded whatever we needed at home into the car and off we went, somewhat faster than our progress over the weekend. ........................................................................................................... Tips for narrowboat purchasers.. PICK YOUR BUILDER WELL. Ours was excellent and the finished product high quality. CHECK THE SPEC VERY CAREFULLY. Do not assume the essential minor items are included. Ours did not include a gangplank,water hose,shore power cable and a pole for pushing the boat out to the centre of the canal when aground. In comparison it would be like purchasing a new car which had no heater, no rear-view mirrors and no seats....CHECK AFTERCARE REPUTATION. No comment. Healthwise I was OK with only one dizzy spell. I managed to support myself on the tiller until Lynne arrived and recovered. No harm done and no parp-parp hooter used.

Friday 12 April 2013

Alive and Kicking

A non-cruising day. The Tardis is empty, Tardis Two full. No doubt Maggie Thatcher will get the blame for the weather, she seems to get blamed for everything else! I'll watch the funeral on ITV or Sky. PLEASE NOTE There will be no blog over the weekend as I will be cruising and Tardis Two has yet to be linked to the internet, but I am alive and kicking and aim to be the same on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Naval insurance & more

After yesterday's almost spring-like weather today returned to the cold, dismal offering we've become used to. Acting on my cunning plan to camp outside my doctor's consulting room I was surprised to be offered an emergency appointment at 12.30 pm, which I gladly accepted even though it interfered with my boat visiting plans. In the event my doctor was running almost an hour late when I arrived (on-time). Having studied the email from my neurologist she was equally amazed he had asked her to make the decision regarding changing my anti-seizure drug. She wondered why expert neurologists are used by all GP's to advise them on treatments for relevant patients when in this case it has been transferred back to her. What's the point of having them at considerable expense to the NHS? She suggested I stay on my present drug at current dosages for a further 3 weeks, keeping a diary of events, which she will review having revised the affects of brain tumours and treatments in the meantime. My neurologist is new to the hospital, temporarily filling the vacancy left by the old one, in whom I had complete faith. Staff at the hospital confirmed the new one had been top student in his field at Cambridge university. Given their performance in the 2013 boat race it is no surprise he seems a bit slow and unable to make a decision without having a safety net, in this case an unfortunate GP who freely admits her tumour knowledge and experience is small. After several weeks of blissful peace and quiet,the naval insurance company sent a letter (yes, a letter, in writing on paper), stating I owe them £59 for no explained reason. I wrote back, telling them what to do with their letter and the non-explained payment request. In true Naval tradition another letter arrived today as a "final warning", again requesting immediate payment, but again not explaining the reason. I phoned them along the lines of my last letter and the poor flunky on the end of the line quietly apologised and promised the matter is now closed. Watch this space. We re-visited TARDIS TWO, armed with yet more belongings and the bedroom blinds, one of which we managed to mount before returning to our on-land home. It looks great. We will have to mount the other two tomorrow if we are to sleep aboard prior to setting sail Saturday morning. Hopefully the weather will improve by then, otherwise we'll have to dig-out the woolly hats and gloves.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

All aboard

A BIG, BIG DAY. After years of planning, hardship, poor health and more than a little frustration we finally took official ownership of our very own boat. A car-load of our worldly goods was transferred to our new "home", making it look lived-in and stunningly beautiful. Mick and Paul gave us an introductory tour of all the fittings, electrical and mechanical gubbins. The electrics box and central heating controls are mind-blowingly complicated at first sight and demonstration, but I guess we'll get used to them in due course. (?) All the MCC guys left us to our own devices this evening so ensuring everything was off or on the right settings was terrifying to say the least. Connection to the electricity mains is our only saving grace, we hope. We'll creep back tomorrow and hope she and the batteries are still in working order. The champagne was not cracked today as Lynne had to drive home, but it will be tomorrow. The weather was appropriately warm today and the weekend is forecast to be blistering so we intend making the best of it by leaving the marina early Saturday morning (to avoid making a pillock of myself in front of a load of gongoozlers). We plan to cruise for the weekend before returning to Stenson for the Sky box to be fitted. From then the world is our oyster, or at least 2000 miles of UK waterways. To crown a wonderful day my neurologist has finally granted permission via email for me to change anti-seizure drugs, but only after I have discussed the issues with my GP, who is fully booked for a week. I plan to camp outside her surgery door early tomorrow until discussions take place. She surely must have to use the loo at some stage during the day?

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Fits & frustration

Apologies for missing my blog yesterday. It was one of those days best forgotten about. The weather was nondescript, as was today's. Back to yesterday. I suffered several dizzy spells/blank moments/fits throughout the morning, only relieved by an afternoon in bed (sleeping). My support nurse had asked me to email her with every event related to my tumour or treatment thereof, which I did at great length. I think it fair to assume she knew I was not happy. It is a long time since I have mentioned the Watford Gap phenomena, mainly due to the fact our "new" car has no exterior thermometer, however, today as we passed it going south it started to rain. I have often wondered when BMW will start fitting indicators as standard because, with the exception of the police, no owners seem to go for the option of fitting them. My diabetic appointment went well considering we arrived on the wrong day. (Either a misunderstanding or an admin error?)A quick blood test and I was away, having spent a small fortune on the hospital car park. The nurse kindly gave me information to help me arrange my next diabetic monitoring appointment at Leicester Royal hospital. If I can move my tumour check-ups and neurology to Nottingham our trips to London should considerably reduce and real help will be on our doorstep so to speak. To say I am getting frustrated at the lack of action to reduce or eliminate my "fits" would be a major understatement, feelings shared by Lynne who has to witness them all and the aftermath. I have found the NHS are wonderful at saving lives, but seem to lose interest once that is achieved. The Royal Marsden is a major exception to this rule. No bar codes there. As a matter of interest it started raining as we passed Watford Gap on the way North, further negating my theory.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Rhino relationships

Equally sunny but cooler than yesterday. We had a lunch date at Burton Upon Trent but managed to find Barrow Upon Trent instead, but the problem was quickly rectified and our friends had only a short wait for us. No malnutrition suffered. The photo is of the Tardis Two early days in the welding shop, now a distant memory. No comparison with the newest pictures. After our last visit to MCC we stupidly decided to "pop" into IKEA looking for a cutlery tray. Sounds reasonable until you realise it is impossible to just "pop" into IKEA. We got lost several times again. Many hours later we managed to tunnel our way out, exhausted but complete with a cutlery tray. I still think someone should introduce an IKEA sat-nav into which you tap your required department, plug in your earphones and off you go. Tap exit when you want to leave. What could possibly go wrong? A £5 deposit should ensure return of the gadget each time.I made a remarkable discovery yesterday whilst walking home from the village Our rhino has always appeared to be alone, poor soul, but on the other side of the same tree are the heads of a female and calf, not visible from the house. Good news indeed. The Black rhino population is therefore considerably higher than previous estimates

Saturday 6 April 2013

Guided tours

A very sunny and WARM day, note Lynne and Brother-in-law Brian sporting dark glasses. Tardis Two is now virtually complete, bar for a few window surrounds to be completed tomorrow. Due to my previously arranged visit to Kingston hospital on Tuesday we will be unable to start boarding until Wednesday, which is very frustrating considering the length of time we have waited for this moment. But Wednesday it will be. Whilst showing Tardis Two off to our relatives today a young man approached to ask if he could have a tour. We naturally agreed. There is no point being proud of something if you can't show it off, is there? Like us he loved it and ran off to make enquiries with Marian regarding buying one. We'll charge commission. Moments later a couple around our age (old) also requested a tour. We considered charging them but pride came before profit. Apparently they have lived on a boat for fifteen years and are keen to replace it with a more modern version. On the tour we did our publicity blurb for MCC and off they went to get a quote from Marian. Again we'll charge commission. This sounds a good get-rich-not-so-quick project. I remembered bread for the swans so am back in their good books. After yet another lunch at the dragon one of the owners offered us a parking space in their car park anytime whilst we're out on Tardis Two. That would give us an excellent excuse to re-visit again and again. No change there then.

Friday 5 April 2013

Eat your heart out, Cunard

same old, same old weather, Cold wind with sunshine unfortunately filtered by fluffy cloud formations. Tardis Two was back in the workshop today having the finishing touches applied. The snags we spotted last weekend have all been dealt with and the wine chiller is fully functional, minus the wine. During my long hours in bed yesterday Lynne slaved over a hot sewing machine, between serving me coffee and meals, virtually completing the boat blinds. With the addition of my skilfully sawn wooden lathes this morning they are now ready for hanging on Tardis Two. I know I've said this before but T T will be the best boat on the British and European Canal systems for many years to come. A combined winner of the Miss World and Mr. Universe competitions. She will be ready to board on Tuesday of next week, typically coinciding with my next scheduled medical appointment in London, this time for my annual diabetic check-up. As you can probably tell, I am much recovered from yesterdays ailments. We have yet to formulate a plan for getting our worldly possessions on board and heading out into the great unknown, but I'll keep you informed. My true travelogue will commence immediately we set sale (the main reason for starting my blog). Better late than never. Excited or what?

Thursday 4 April 2013

Playing God

The rhino's head is bobbing up and down, indicating a very windy day. The big yellow blob is in the sky yet again. It's starting to be a habit. Following my fruitless trip to hospital yesterday I suffered the mother of all dizzy spells during the evening and two during the night, complete with my previous early warning system of acid indigestion. The trips to the bathroom were via a very wavy route and I fortunately kept upright via the help of nearby furniture. I woke with a thumping head. The only plus point was receiving breakfast and lunch in bed thanks to my tireless carer Lynne. My head is still thumping as I write this. My intention is to return to bed but get up for tea. The trip to see the boat has been delayed till tomorrow, which indicates just how bad I am feeling. Reflecting on yesterday I am now fully aware I am simply a bar code number on NHS records. The neurologist making the decision on whether to change my anti-seizure drug (there are several on the market, all with different side-effects, depending on the patient) or vary my present doseage again made the decision to change nothing after talking to my carer (not me!!)from the end of a telephone line. Diagnosis by Skype? I always thought it best to make an assessment of bedside manner when the doctor was at your bedside, not someone else's. Anyway, if he feels confident enough to play God from afar, good luck to him, but he's lost another patient. (gone away, not died, thankfully). The Liverpool pathway (a cunning NHS plan to reduce costs and meet performance targets by removing treatment, food , water and basic care, particularly for older patients) seems to have a lot going for it at the moment. I have also "chased" my GP again (chance would be a fine thing)for a counselling programme to tackle my depression but it takes time to organise apparently. This Liverpool pathway seems to have spread like foot and mouth disease. The pathway is so called as it started in a Liverpool hospital and quickly spread across the UK, apparently undetected by Hospital Managers, undertakers and the Minister of Health.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

St. George

Blissfully sunny summer day when viewed from a warm house or car but sub-arctic when actually out in it. Having scraped ice off the car windows we set off for London at the ungodly hour of 0600. Even so we arrived for my 0900 appointment at St Georges hospital late, due to underestimating the volume of rush-hour traffic in Wimbledon and Tooting. The wisdom of moving to "the sticks" was yet again confirmed, as was our resolve never to return. In the event my appointment was considerably less than exciting as the decision was to leave my current drug regime unaltered for a further three months. If my current relative good health continues so be it, but if not an alternative to limotrigine will be tried. We had a further discussion over what actually constitutes a fit, but we left non-the-wiser. The consultant considers my dizzy and vacant spells as purely reactions to the drugs, whilst the neurologist is convinced they are fits. I have opted to agree with the consultant. My support nurse was surprisingly supportive today and will chase-up my GP for depression counselling, whilst the aforementioned cancer tumour support nurse (not mine) was once again ultra supportive and sorted out the issue of two scan appointments less than two weeks apart next month, confirmed as administrative errors. I now will have one scan next January as per original arrangements. Having spent over six hours being driven around I opted for a "fitness" walk this evening, making the most of the extra hours daylight. I discovered a recent plantation of commercial apple species in the country park, supposedly filled only with native plants. A plaque explained it is part of an award winning project by the local primary school pupils and young boy scouts to replace an historic orchard previously on the site. We,re off to see Tardis Two tomorrow, hoping to see her ready for boarding (again). Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Bl***ingly obvious

Very sunny today with the odd fluffy white cloud or two, but no formations unfortunately. A quiet day with the highlight being a visit to Laura Ashley (the shop, not the girl) to pick up the blind material we originally chose but decided was too expensive at the time. Delay upon delay in the supply of our second (cheaper) choice and the ever nearer completion of Tardis Two forced our hand into returning for the original again. Our second choice was just that, so we are happy with the result despite the expense. We're up very early in the morning as I have a 9.00am appointment at St. Georges hospital, London, for my "support" nurse to review my tumour drug regime. As I am sure she will be of great support to Lynne at my funeral the lack of such prior confidence hardly fills me with enthusiasm for tomorrow, but hey-ho, that's life (or not as the case may be).

Monday 1 April 2013


This photo is of Tardis Two moored outside the workshop for the first time, nearly complete. Believe it or not the bow Tardis Two names are obliterated by sun reflections. For those of you too young to remember, the sun was a large yellow ball-type object high in the clear blue sky from which heat beamed to earth. Countries like Africa and India tended to see it more than we did and thus were warmer. Thanks to global warming this has all changed and yesterday northern Scotland was colder than the arctic. Over the weekend we had two opportunities to show relatives the boat and were able to check for interior "snags" (minor issues requiring attention). Fortunately very few were found but on our next visit we will be fully armed with a snag-list. The swans were as grumpy as ever, particularly when they realised I had forgotten the bread promised for their tea. A couple of angry taps on the window and they were off in a huff, ganging-up on an unfortunate Coot as they went.