Friday 31 May 2013

64 and still going

64 today and the sun is out to help me celebrate. It is even warm. We'll  crack the champagne later. We are moored in a lovely tree-lined part of the Coventry canal which played havoc with my dongle, hence the late publishing of my previous blog . I have nothing but praise for my loaned 3 dongle which has worked perfectly to date (last night excepted). Next port of call Poleshill and a staircase lock of 5 chambers, which should prove exciting.
UPDATE at 8.00pm.     Wonderful day. Brilliant hot and sunny.11 locks and fabulous sights. The hot weather emphasises the physical qualities of boating ladies, renown for their upper body muscles due, I presume, to all that hard work on the locks. Their upper body muscles and low tops combine to make boating a whole new experience ( I must go to spec-savers). The day has just finished with a meal at a pub in Hartshill. Lynne has a line full of washing and we walked back to the boat past a Buzzard on the ground nearby and a Muntjac deer (google it) "barking" in the woods. What more could you ask for?  We cracked the champagne for breakfast, much to the amusement of passing boaters. Lynne's L plates , one on the stern, one on the bow, also raise many eyebrows and a smile or two. We may have to remove them soon as  Lynne is becoming very expert at handling TARDIS Two , having tackled all the locks on this trip to a very high standard. We are off to  Hawksbury Junction and the Oxford canal tomorrow, all being well. To do so we have to pass through Nuneaton, renown as the Liverpool of the midlands. Stop and you risk losing your hub caps. We do not intend stopping.The dogs in the photo belong to Margaret and are, in order of appearance, Clova and Mellie.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Raindrops and head

It did not stop raining overnight and we realised in our rush to overnight moor we had missed the busy A38 dual carriageway right next to the canal. A quiet night it was not but I slept anyway.  It was still heavily precipitating when we got up around 9.00am but thought it best to make a move anyway in the hope sunshine would prevail, which it didn't of course. Eventually we passed a boat and floating workshop of "The small chimney company" who make stainless steel boat chimneys, one of which we wanted. As if by magic it stopped raining so we stopped for lunch, walked back to the workshop and returned with a brand new chimney ( a birthday present from Margaret ). It looks great and should outlast the boat, according to the manufacturer.  After lunch we had a leisurely cruise in real sunshine, I'll repeat that, in real sunshine, until we reached Fazely Junction for a water refill and rubbish dump, when it rained yet again.  I should mention the Coventry canal is a gem and almost matches the Mon and Brecon canal in Wales for sheer beauty. In sunshine it would be stunning.   something I conveniently forgot to mention yesterday was our latest "loose mooring" incident. This time nothing to do with our lack of knot-tying skills. The wood onto which we moored for lunch was badly secured to the wood posts in the bank and gave way once another boat passed, launching us, complete with wooden side-board, into the canal. Once rescued we moved on to more secure moorings, still in pouring rain.
This evening we moored in quieter surroundings near the ruins of a very old Priory, in dry and warm conditions. The rotary washing line went up on the stern and loads of undies, a bra and various jeans/track suit bottoms were pegged-on. Home from home.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Sent to Coventry

Sunny morning then,guess precipitated . At this precise moment we are moored on the Coventry Canal shortly after Fradley junction where we filled with fresh water, whilst offloading our "used"water and other waste,as you do. A young gongoozler and his mum requested a boat tour which they undertook with Lynne as guide. It all went well until Cody decided to launch himself onto our bed, still with his muddy shoes on. He left Tardis Two quickly. The forecast is showers but this is a hellishly long one. The boat moored next to us last night apparently was a mobile holistic healing centre. we did not partake as all our holistic's are in good order.
The Coventry canal is very rural and far more picturesque than the Trent and Mersey, which is not difficult. 12 miles with no locks until we reach a short stretch with 11 locks. Once again we'll wait for a dry spell before moving on.
The dry spell lasted all of 30 minutes before an even longer and heavier shower commenced and is yet to stop. We all got soaked mooring up yet again so here we'll stay. It is great fun this cruising lark.

Tuesday 28 May 2013


1500 hours and it is still raining. We haven't moved today although I had to venture out to clear our rubbish bin........twice. Being a posh place bins are few and far between but one was found outside the Post Office and another outside the Co-Op. Surprisingly I even found a fish and chip shop, a Chinese takeaway and a pub, none of which I entered, honest.  2 fits today ,but both minor and very short-lived. Otherwise I feel fine. Our eldest daughter, currently on holiday in Devon with her family, is tracking us on her iPad, which is scary. We fooled her today by not moving !  Losing a days cruising is not a big issue as we have no set timetable and, anyway, we can make-up the time easily, providing it stops raining soon.
The horrific street murder of one of our brave soldiers at home in Woolwich by an insane terrorist makes the reason for sacrificing hundreds of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan even more of a lie.Tony Blair promised winning  the "wars" would make British citizens safer at home. Eh?     We have lost innocent residents travelling to work by bus and underground trains. The USA has hardly faired better.
Keep your nose out of others business seems to be the message.

Summer returns with vengeance

Rained all night and so far today. Only hire boats on the move through necessity. We're staying put until the rain stops,unless it goes on for months (tempting fate?) we are moored in a very quiet spot next to a bowling green and a very grand church. The village is very up-market,Full of Audi's, Merc sports and BMW's. we need some milk but doubt if we'll find the necessary corner-shop here. Black coffee it is then. 

Sunday 26 May 2013

Zippidee Doo Dah

.Zippidee A. My oh my what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine heading my way etc.etc. I can't remember where the hell the song comes from but it sums-up the weekend so far. Lynne's Tardis Two wardrobe is full but surprisingly not bulging, whilst mine is full of my lonely pair of underpants. The water tank is full and diesel tank sufficiently full for our two week trip. The former will need refilling every two days or so, hopefully the latter will still have some in when we finish.The wine cooler is full and we may even belatedly crack open a bottle of champagne (or two) when our crew arrives. The canals are busy over the Bank Holiday weekend which also signals the start of the hire-boat season, so we're in for a rocky ride. Another warm and sunny start. What could possibly go wrong? The small snagged faults appear to have been completed since our last visit earlier in the week,although the listing is more difficult to identify. Has it been done? A definite maybe. The eye says yes, the spirit level says no. Only the engine service remains outstanding for when we return to base.
We popped into Coventry on the way home (by car) to visit our youngest daughter coaching the juniors at the city bowling alley. Apart from a minor fit (my first in living memory) the evening went well. A couple of fits during the night raised more questions but was  put down to the mid-way point of my anti-fit tablet changeover. Time will tell.
We ended up at Erewash, a pretty village on the Erewash canal (surprise,surprise) following a blistering hot day topped by a cool evening. Having a crew of 4 makes boating so much simpler, particularly at locks.  Lynne and Margaret shared most of the steering duties but I sneaked a go here and there, although the fits have returned thick and fast. Lots of ducklings, cygnets and goslings. Ducklings are by far the least disciplined , dashing around without a care in the world, whilst cygnets are a joy to behold, sticking between mum and dad in perfect formation, or even cadging a lift on mum's back. Goslings are mid-table in this event, but  the parents are not to  be argued with. 
I write this , rain has arrived, which will probably beat on the roof and keep us awake all night. Yet again we missed cracking the champagne, but we still have something to look forward to whilst waiting for the rain to stop

Demise of Happy Pills

I hate to tempt fate but feel compelled to report it is warm and sunny this morning. Even the rhino looks more at home. We have packed-up most of our clothes (again) in readiness for moving them onto Tardis Two for our long-term spell aboard. It seems strange moving again so soon. We have loved this place since we first moved in and will miss it, but we intend returning for Christmas/New Year to allow for a family gathering in something larger than a sardine tin. I woke this morning reflecting on how well I feel as the process of weaning myself off the happy pills continues. I now have the senses and functions I had before taking them,and some I'd never had before. I'm still a grumpy old git but I've always been happy that way. Take my advice, if anyone suggests a course of happy pills say "no thanks" and rush out the door. Go for counselling  instead, although from my experience there seems to be a very long waiting list for it on the NHS. 3 months and still waiting. A bag of Smarties helps. I gave up and started self-counselling, a bit like they practice on the management bonding seminars/weekends. So they do have a useful function after all?  During quiet moments I ask myself questions I think a counselor would automatically ask about childhood, relationships, significant events, regrets, fears and aspirations etc. (The Notebook. James Garner). Answer them honestly and you've saved yourself a lot of wasted time and money. To save embarrassment and boredom I won't go into the results of my consultations but I'm available anytime you need a session. Just contact my agent. Price negotiable.
I have informed MCC management when Tardis Two is available for rectification and intend being a "floater" (Waterworld. Kevin Costner). A blowfly is a continual nuisance but ensures you do something about it quickly.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Where's. infinity?

 A late plan change. The knee investigation has been postponed so Captain Hook can take his place aboard TARDIS Two starting Monday which means our adventures can finally begin. Lynne was understandably wary of being in charge of long-term cruising, given her limited experience. Adding the experience and expertise of my sister Margaret should give Lynne the confidence to tackle even the most daunting waterways we'll encounter, especially the river Thames sometime soon.  We aim to take the bulk of our clothes to Tardis two in the morning although where we will put them remains to be seen.  My "wardrobe" only has room for a very small pair of underpants, but at least it makes choosing my daily "look" easy.    The weather has not disappointed today, being warm and sunny, hopefully it will remain so over the next week or two. I'll be dongling for a few days so be patient if gremlins creep in.

To infinity and beyond part 2

Sunny but not too warm for the start of a Bank Holiday weekend.The forecast is good but we've heard that before. Surprise,surprise, our plans for cruising the Leicester ring have already suffered a setback, which seems to be par for the course with us.It is now going to be a 2 - person operation as my brother in law has injured his knee. (I should say one of his knees otherwise it makes him sound like captain hook). His doctor's appointment is Thursday and doubtless he will need a hospital x-ray and treatment, further delaying his availability, but at this stage it's give it a go or stay home as options. I do not need to tell you which we've chosen. Our "crew" are willing to join us at some point on our journey, yet to be decided.We plan to stop at MCC on our way back when they can service the engine, get the boat level and sort out the other faults. We plan to stay there for a week (when the cats will move aboard) and leave for London thereafter. Healthwise I feel confident the trip is possible as I have been fit-free for several days and generally feel much better. This morning we discovered I have been overdosing on the two anti-fit drugs, mainly due to vague instructions from my new consultant and a miscalculation by my GP and Lynne. I'm still alive which is some consolation I suppose.

Friday 24 May 2013

Mr.nice guy

Ditto.  I must be feeling better(I am) as I awoke this morning feeling much more militant and ready to take on the world. Having praised MCC (Midland canal company)in the past my patience has finally run out, which is a pity as their staff remain wonderful against all odds. Having emailed management (currently on holiday somewhere warmer than here. The arctic?) I surprisingly received a coded reply , or was it poor english? saying the TARDIS Two first engine service cannot be done until June 3rd or the other little niggles until early July. Sod any arrangements we may have ( like cruising.tsk.tsk) the workshop is in full use till then. Never mind all the jobs can be done whilst moored on the canal or in the marina and can be completed in one day (according to one of the staff, who wishes to remain anonymous ). Never mind the customer service, admire the workshop. We plan to start the Leicester ring cruise this weekend which takes two weeks so I emailed back giving management this information and giving them a "spare" week when the works could take place in mid June, bearing in mind we need to be in London for early July. That trip takes 2 weeks. Sod your plans, ours should/will also be considered. It is not our fault you made so many foul-ups. No more Mr.nice guy.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Lynne Hamilton

Sitting in the car on my way to dump our old fence in a vicious hail storm I had time to reflect on Lynne's driving style. Previous to my illness Lynne did little driving as she failed to see any enjoyment in it. Now as our main source of transport she finds driving a necessity but still not enjoyable. In town her driving style resembles that of Lewis Hamilton at Monaco. Out of town it changes to a "whacky races" style. Speed humps simply become launch pads and cyclists chicanes. Signal right and turn left. Signal left and turn right. As a passenger relaxing it isn't but appreciated all the same. In the Yaris overtaking was a long-term plan best attempted On a downward slope. In the Rio overtaking can be attempted absolutely anywhere and in the minimum space available, also relaxing. If Lynne ever gets to read this it may well be my last blog.
We seem to have crystallised our cruising plans. My sister and husband are back from their Cornwall camper van adventures and have agreed to crew for Lynne on the Leicester Ring starting this weekend. The trip takes around 2 weeks over several canals and rivers through  Leicestershire and Derbyshire. It will be nice to finally set sail and leave all our problems behind.


Sunny and warm this morning, so no ditto.
Having spent recent weeks getting increasingly frustrated at our lack of progress with Tardis Two and our travels I have decided life is divided into distinct segments. Long term plans do not or cannot be made or expected to reach fruition as events inevitably overtake them. For instance, Richard Branson (Virgin) started as an unconventional  record label owner and fulfilled his plan of being the best at it. I have no doubt at that time he even dreamed of owning an airline, a Telecommunications company or a Bank, each being a follow-on project/challenge from the previous one. My eldest son at a very early age planned to be a top footballer for Liverpool FC and a formula one racing driver. When I pointed out each was a separate full-time sport   his logical reply was along the lines of football being played on Saturdays and grand-prix races taking place on Sundays. He now sells computers. I stupidly decided to leave school at the first opportunity following the death of my mother, determined to become fully independent and no longer a financial drag on my father, who immediately found me a job as assistant gardener at a nearby management college, In earlier life if someone had suggested I would become a gardener they would have been dismissed as idiots. My ambition at the time was to become a journalist. However, in the event I decided to make a career as a horticulturist (posh word for a gardener), attending two colleges successfully, catching up with missed school qualifications in addition to horticultural certificates. I became a very young Head Gardener of a hospital group in London before moving on to Parks Superintendent posts in local government. By sheer chance Maggie Thatcher decided to privatise parts of local government but allow in-house competition to make councils "more efficient and cost effective".In short, a local government revolution. Parks staff were given the opportunity of forming a Direct Labour Organisation (DLO), run on commercial lines and bidding for contracts against commercial firms. This frightened the life out of the average local government employee who had limited ambitions of a job for life, no hassle and a well funded retirement. So, form a DLO I did, firstly in Lewisham and then,later, in Southwark. Both were successful.On the basis of this success I was offered the opportunity to form, bid for contracts and, if successful , run a council estates cleaning DLO and subsequently a refuse collection/recycling DLO. Almost overnight I morphed from a gardener to a glorified cleaner and dustman.
Planned or what?
The next short term plan was to retire and undertake self-employed garden maintenance work in our local area, prior to our current adventure. Recent unexpected events with Tardis Two and my health have ruined our plans to immediately disappear into the sunset so again only short-term plans can be made. Having thought through the above points I'm not going to work myself into a lather over it all, but take it as it comes, whatever.
UPDATE : Ditto.
I spent yesterday replacing a rickety old garden fence with a recycled slightly less rickety one. It looks good and now has a couple of clematis ready to further enhance its' beauty. Today will be spent ferrying the old fence remains to the local dump when and if it ever stops raining. Happy days.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Minus one,plus two

Overcast and cool again. To save space in future blogs I'll start with "ditto" if the present weather trend continues.Yet again it took a kindly neighbour to point out I had presented the wrong rubbish bin for collection, not uncommon for me.We put out green (recycling) bins one week and black (landfill) bins the next etc.etc. I thought it was green bin week but in fact it should be black bins.They have now been swopped. In reality it makes very little difference as landfill goes to landfill in the UK whilst most recycling goes to landfill in India or China. Exceptions are some cardboard and paper, but we have insufficient capacity to deal with it all, and glass which goes to France as again we have insufficient capacity here. Still. it makes most people think we are saving the planet and gives them something positive to think of instead of the negatives including deforestation, concreting over countryside, planting endless square miles of rubber and palm oil plantations, wiping out tiger populations for useless medicines, whale populations for no reason at all and producing/storing deadly nuclear waste because we don't know what to do with it, overfishing and polluting oceans, the list is endless. But we're all happier for doing our bit.
I am in the process of deleting one tablet (happy pill) but seem to have gained two (new anti fit and anti acid indigestion caused by the former), but overall seem to be on the right track I think, but watch this space.
The reason Tardis Two lists to starboard is apparently because she was levelled with ballast before they fitted the heavy multi-fuel stove on one side. We're told it is relatively easy to fix but even easier to avoid in the first place, but I suppose it is a learning curve. After all MCC have only built in excess of 200 boats so far. In comparison BMW have produced millions of cars without indicators. No contest.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Pickled obesity

Yet another overcast and cool day. I'm already getting bored and fed-up with the summer. We spent yesterday on a tour of the sights and historic relics (no jokes please)of Leicestershire. This really is a fabulous county so "up yours" all those people who questioned our sanity moving here. This blog has now registered almost 4000 "hits", some from parts of the world I have yet to visit (chance would be a fine thing). I now appreciate some of my references to UK politicians and celebrities are lost on my readers in far-flung places. For instance, Eric Pickles is a larger than life Member of Parliament in the cabinet (not literally) as minister for obesity, I think. In fact he makes a hippo appear  anorexic and the blue whale a lightweight.
Part of our scenic tour included a look at the Trinity Marina at Hinckley in the shadow of the factory still making the famous Triumph motor cycles. The marina is very new and has all the facilities required by boaters, including an adjacent pub/restaurant. I guess the marina owner/manageress once road-tested Triumph motorbikes as her voice transcended even the loudest engine noise, although she was extremely friendly. One for our "possibles" list. The Ashby canal stretches 32 miles from Marston Junction to Moira and Conkers with no locks, passing the Bosworth battle site where the War of the Roses  ended in 1485.
Tardis Two still has a number of small items requiring attention, including listing to the starboard side by about 4 inches, a cupboard that will not remain shut and a missing bilge inspection cover, but nothing serious and all reported to MCC.
The problem of no hot water was solved by our marina friend Richard turning off all the radiators, something we were previously told could not happen. As an aside Richard and his 70 year old wife Eileen had a 22 year engagement and a runaway quiet wedding at Gretna Green, which neither of their families were aware of until after the event. Thereafter they have lived on a narrowboat for the past 3 years.
As a result of the success of my blog it has been suggested I get sponsored or carry advertisements to improve my income. Suggested companies include  Eddie Stobart.........The Co-Op..............The Canal and River Trust...............99p Stores,.........Victoria's Secret...............Lidl or Aldi..............The Birmingham tourist information Trust and the Trafford Centre, amongst others. Further printable suggestions welcome by postcard only.
Healthwise all is reasonably well apart from an acute pain in my chest for the past two days, solved by a conversation with my new Leicester hospital support nurse (who is actually supportive) and an ECG test at my G.P's, all of which pointed to acid indigestion as a reaction to my new drug rather than anything to do with my heart. A course of anti-indigestion tablets was suggested to solve the problem, and already has.

Monday 20 May 2013

Gorillas and skunk

Back to normal today. Overcast and generally dull, as was yesterday afternoon following the tropical morning. In addition our hot water supply on Tardis Two disappeared which meant washing up via the kettle. Another issue for Eddie to cure. Our saviors yesterday were: Patrick the reversing king who resembles Doc Brown in "Back to the Future". John who is a long-distance lorry driver who has Sky in his cab and Richard who has a real depth of general boat knowledge. I also met Gerry as he staggered by, apparently returning from a friends 60th (or was it 50th) birthday party, much the worst for wear, in fact drunk as a skunk.  He explained he had been a boater for many years and I asked how long to which he replied "55 feet", which he found hilarious. In short Gerry was very difficult to get away from and ended-up sitting on the back of Tardis Two. In the end another marina resident offered to escort him home, thankfully. On the subject of skunks and other animals it is worth mentioning  your chances of seeing Djala (silverback gorilla) and his large family at Port Lympne wildlife park will soon be disappearing as their transfer back to the wild in Gabon fast approaches. This will be the biggest transfer back to the wild ever undertaken. You can support this project by "Going the extra mile" to raise cash and perhaps win a prize. See www.aspinal


Hot and sunny. I have not said that much this year. Perfect boating weather. We woke at 0400 hrs due to a distinct humming noise. A quick check over the boat interior revealed nothing untoward so it was back to bed,having both frozen to death due to no PJ's or dressing gowns.  We finally awoke at the more reasonable time of 0930 hrs.   As the stern of TARDIS Two  was inside the locked marina gate with the bow outside but with no access I had the bright idea of reversing her to the marina entrance, turning her round and reversing back to our original berth. Reversing is not easy with a narrow boat and Lynne was having kittens worrying about it, particularly as there were boats moored both sides. In the end she managed to get one of the more experienced boaters to help. Having 13 years experience he managed it in a jiffy. Another 2 boaters assisted with the electrics and sky box and the morning was gone. all boaters seem friendly and always willing to help. They are also forever painting their boat, cleaning them or fiddling with the engine . And they can all talk for Britain.  The swan egg has gone, the fifth she has lost so far apparently. Obviously  inexperienced.  I'm sunbathing for the afternoon so expect cloud and showers.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Dongle roots

Sunny day but still too cool for mid-may.  This Is my first blog from TARDIS Two via dongle. Managed to fix the back toilet door catch. DIY? No problem.     Spent the morning moving a small conifer, removing another larger one and pruning a few shrubs for friends in Burton upon Trent. Back to my roots (sorry). Watched The Dam Busters on TV this afternoon, for the umpteenth time, only today there was a follow-up featuring the last remaining Survivor who returned to Europe to find the remains of his Lancaster bomber lost over France in another, later mission. He also visited the dams he had helped destroy and spoke to some of the residents in the immediate vicinity, plus laid wreaths on the graves of lost comrades. A very courageous man who reflected on the pointlessness of war. Very moving.
The marina swan has laid an egg in her pathetic excuse for a nest and appears to be taking care of it while proud dad floats up and down the canal looking smug. The local ducks have a cute family too.
We're staying aboard tonight but have yet to make plans for tomorrow.

Friday 17 May 2013

Eric pickles' feet

As expected, a very light sprinkling of rain happened yesterday afternoon. It would have been difficult to get wet, a bit like Eric Pickles' feet in the shower. Today was overcast and cold plus the usual afternoon rain. To stop TARDIS Two feeling neglected we popped over to see her this afternoon. All was well. Healthwise I had a small fit just before tea, the first for several days (fit, not tea). I had an appointment with a diabetic nurse in our local GP surgery this morning. Again, nothing adverse to report. I have yet to start changing my anti-fit tablets, but I intend starting tomorrow, although fazing one in and one out will take around six weeks. The deletion of happy pills is progressing well.
We intend staying overnight on TARDIS Two over the weekend and we may even fit in a short cruise, weather permitting.

Thursday 16 May 2013


Sunny with clear blue skies this morning but there is still time for it to change by midday as usual. It actually snowed in places yesterday. Our trip to Yorkshire was in pouring rain. Add the spray from lorries and driving was not pleasant for Lynne, who dislikes it at the best of times. We set off early to avoid the York races traffic, but there was none. As a consequence we arrived early and stopped to grab tea and coffee in a pub near the crematorium. To say the pub was stuck in the 1950's would be an understatement, although the tea and coffee came with complimentary custard cream biscuits. Lynne was particularly excited by the ladies loo's which featured chain-pull cisterns. The gents was similar but also featured an ancient hot-air hand drier with no hot air,or indeed, any air at all. Also to get to the ladies it was necessary to pass the gents toilet which sported no door or courtesy panel, which for me was quite disconcerting. On the A1 motorway near Leeds we passed one of those giant advertisements stuck on the side of a large lorry trailer, mysteriously parked in an adjacent field. On it was the giant message "Prepare to meet God, your maker"  although I hadn't expected it to happen so quickly. Within seconds we were cruising past an old codger in (you've guessed it) a BMW. As we passed he decided to change lanes. As it was a two lane section our options were somewhat restricted. Somehow Lynne managed to brake heavily and lean on the hooter at the same time. The deaf old git and his BMW disappeared into the distance totally oblivious to the chaos they had left behind. We could not see if his car had the optional extra of indicators as we were alongside at the time. The service was inspirational,as Norman, aged 88, was remembered as the model soldier, employee (Lever brothers -now Unilever) and father, universally loved and admired. Something for all to aspire to but few will achieve.  We then travelled to see our son in Manchester in the hope of offloading the stack of his belongings stored in our loft. The M 62 is stunning , passing through the Yorkshire moors. Apparently it is the highest motorway in England. Manchester is a sort of upmarket Birmingham, but then so is Mumbai. For dinner we were taken to the Trafford centre. Think of the biggest shopping mall you have ever seen and treble it. Mind-blowing, it even has a Victoria's Secret which always overcomes my aversion to shopping. Thousands of free parking spaces. Some architects and councils show genius. Healthwise no fits and still no response from my new consultant. He needs to liven up if he wants paying.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Short and sweet

It rained all night and all morning. The flood plains Our trip to the funeral in York went well, overall,  and I had no fits today. 3 days in a row. Lots of things to report but they will have to wait till the morning as, frankly, I'm knackered.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Chute to Munich

Weatherwise it was lousy today. Rain, rain and more rain plus cool temperatures. Healthwise it was better, no fits for the second day running. A letter arrived this morning confirming an appointment at the Leicester Royal neurological department with a doctor I have never heard of for the 31st July..... The 31st July. A quick phone call confirmed it was not a sick joke (excuse the pun), but a few minutes later I received a phone call offering an appointment with a neurological nurse for Friday of this week, which was gratefully accepted. However, my joy was short lived as within half an hour another phone call confirmed this appointment would have to be cancelled. After a bit of pitiful pleading it was confirmed Mr Critchley, my private consultant, wished to see me at the earliest opportunity in his NHS role, and I would soon receive an appointment. A quick email was sent to Mr Critchley's secretary querying if he had already sent a fax to my GP outlining the drug change and process necessary to achieve it, as promised. My GP, in turn, has promised to issue a prescription for the new drug immediately the fax is received to allow for the change at the earliest opportunity. Ho-Hum. Booze-up and brewery spring to mind. In the meantime we decided to inspect the Shobnall Marina in Burton Upon Trent as a possible alternative mooring for Stensen. We again confirmed it is a pleasant place and has a very friendly and helpful owner, as apposed to our current nice marina know the rest. Unfortunately the journey there and back is considerably longer, both in mileage and time. We both agreed this disadvantage balanced the advantages and so we agreed to maintain the status-quo, at least until my drug change is successfully completed. In the meantime we may need to buy a bulk supply of Scentoff, the dog-repellant powder. Remaining on the subject of dodgy flights, this hijack incident is worth relating. The previously mentioned incidents were both on package holiday flights. Today's involves a scheduled British Airways 747 Jumbo flight to Malaysia. Having taken off from Heathrow and sat through the usual emergency procedure demonstrations we settled down to enjoy our peanuts and soft drinks until the captain announced we were making an unscheduled stop at Munich, but there was nothing to worry about (the worst thing to say). The steward then announced we would need to evacuate the plane via the escape chutes as quickly as possible,having put on our coats, taken off our shoes and secured all loose items in one bag. Larger items and duty free drinks to be left on board. The air hostesses indicated the order of evacuation and which doors to use. In pitch blackness we landed to be greeted by a large number of police and fire vehicles. Once the plane halted the chutes were released and everyone left without any panic. Buses transported us all to the airport terminal, which was locked and in darkness, where we sat for over two hours without access to food or drink, whilst our luggage was removed from the plane to the tarmac. We were all reunited with our shoes. BA staff explained a message had been left in lipstick on one of the toilet mirrors demanding the plane landed at Munich otherwise a bomb would be detonated. I assume a passenger, whilst quietly spending a penny, noticed the message and returned to his/her seat in a hurry with soiled underwear and pushed the call-button. We then had to identify our luggage which was re-loaded on the plane. We resumed our seats, took off and returned to Heathrow, (trying to ascertain who was missing) as the crew would have exceeded their flying hours if we had completed our flight to Malaysia. Again we spent several hours in the terminal but this time with access to food and any drink required. Frighteningly we were then put on the same plane and our journey recommenced. Please note : Air travel is the safest form of transport.

Monday 13 May 2013

Stensen to Cuba

i've given up giving morning weather reports. For several days now it has been sunny and almost summery in Anstey, only to get to MCC for it to turn into torrential rain and cold winds. However, returning presents the opposite scenario with dry roads, no puddles and absolutely no sign of recent rain. We're looking for a marina much nearer home in our micro-climate. Tardis Two is afloat again and "wobbles" when you walk through, much more like home. I complained to the Canal and River Trust a few days ago about the overhanging trees and scrub along one side of the Trent and Mersey canal between Stensen and Burton, restricting it to half width and subsequent damage to boat paintwork. All credit to them as they emailed back today stating they have programmed the work to begin in August. Efficient or what? No fits today but still no response from my private consultant, apart from an invoice, despite a full-on attack from Lynne. These tactics have always worked in the past so perhaps we will need to refine or alter them. Tomorrow is another day. My recollections of early flights on ancient aircraft reminded me of an adventurous flight to Cuba via Cubana Airways. I already knew they used retired Russian planes but was pleasantly surprised to see a leased/borrowed/stolen DC10 roll up to the getaway gate at Gatwick. Apart from the air-con not working and the obvious extreme age it seemed OK and got us to Cuba without hassle, only to crash in Ecuador less than a month later with no survivors. Cuba is a great place to visit, by the way.

Sunday 12 May 2013

A pristine bottom

As Sunny and wind-free this morning as it was yesterday until we arrived at MCC when we were subjected to heavy rain, gusting winds and freezing temperatures. Tardis Two's bottom looked immaculate, as per Pippa Middleton (any newspaper front page) and Susan George (Straw Dogs, also starring Dustin Hoffman). Having had two coats of blacking  she looked back to her best and is due another coat before re-launch ( Tardis two only). We gained access via a pair of steps reminiscent of my first flight abroad from Luton airport, courtesy of Cosmos holidays and an ancient Lockheed Super Constellation held together with string and elastic bands. Our friends from London complained about the lack of a Stenna stairlift and commented on how big Tardis Two is on the interior, which she was designed to be. We have got used to other boaters and gongoozlers asking if she is bigger on the inside than the outside. Our standard answer is 82feet on the inside, 62feet on the outside. Eddies theory on the reason for losing the original blacking included......1) The primer (which gives off noxious fumes when wet) not being dry when the first coat of blacking was applied or..........2) The boat being put in the water too soon Both result in blisters being formed under the blacking resulting in the problem we had suffered. No apology, but hey-ho. We're off to the Dragon for lunch with friends today and the inevitable re-visit to MCC. As Mark is a survivor of the HMS Coventry sinking in the Falklands I'm not sure he will be keen on boarding the elevated Tardis Two via steps. Two fits yesterday but nothing major. Lynne will go into attack mode again tomorrow in an attempt to speed-up the drug change process. Going private apparently does nothing to improve clinical communication skills, although the bill seemed to arrive quickly.

Saturday 11 May 2013


Sunny and non-windy for a pleasant change. Our spy at MCC reports the re-blacking of TARDIS two's bottom has been completed, which is great news. Hopefully she will be back in the water very soon.
Healthwise I had two biggish fits yesterday, thankfully pre-warned by acid indigestion ( unfortunately this fails to happen every time because it gives me time to sit down or grab something/someone for support until the fit/dizzy spell passes ). Still no news on the drug change which is frustrating, to say the least......Now, you'll need to concentrate otherwise I might lose you and I might ask questions later.
My tumour is on the right side of my brain, which controls the left side of my body. This explains the fits affecting my left arm for a few seconds, (a sort of dead-arm syndrome) , my head turning to the left during fits and loss of understandable speech. Bits of food lodging on the left of my lower face when eating, despite my best efforts. Lynne has mastered a form of sign language to warn me of necessary knapkin duties. Doctor style writing (unreadable) and odd letters missing from words (I am left handed), thank God for computer auto spell checks. I am also left footed, which gives you an idea of my concerns. Everyone says forget it and get on with your life, which is easy to say if you are not living with it 24/7. I'll need an operation eventually if and when any of the above afflictions get worse, which makes all the TARDIS Two delays even more frustrating. I obviously want to get the maximum cruising days possible, otherwise all the expense and hardship will seem wasted. As it is I am unable to drive or steer the boat so I have already lost two things I love.
Sorry for the downbeat blog but on a brighter note my dongle has arrived (no jokes please) which should allow me to blog from TARDIS Two, providing I can get it to work. Given my lack of computer skills this is no certainty. Time will tell, or Terry in this case. He is a computer expert ( nut?) and has promised to visit TARDIS two in early June, whereby everything will work, providing he can train me to use it. Again no certainty. I can then give daily reports on our progress,adventures and things of note, plus photo 's. It should resemble a Great Britain tourist guide. Book your holiday now.

Friday 10 May 2013

missing photo's

These photo's should have been on my earlier blog but gremlins were busy again. The grey oblongs on the hull are anodes which assist with anti-corrosion, but don't ask me how.

Early start

My overnight stay aboard TARDIS Two was abandoned last evening as the weather threatened life and limb, plus I suffered a particularly heavy fit. My Carer considered I was in no fit state to stay overnight on my own in hurricane-like winds with horizontal rain and I was not prepared to argue as I knew I was on a loser. Hence we left Anstey very early this morning to ensure being present when TARDIS Two was taken out of the water to inspect the missing blacking and organise repairs. It proved to be a pointless rush as it was 11.30am before the exercise commenced.(Not as much blacking as we thought had peeled off. Certainly not enough to justify the large lumps that surfaced during our recent cruise. Close inspection confirmed the missing patches had peeled off, rather than scraped, so we were exonerated from blame. However,no reason was decided or offered. Re-blacking will take place tomorrow and access will be available via a set of steps, similar to those used at small airports. The waiting time was not wasted as I took the opportunity of fitting a chrome loo roll holder in the rear toilet and a smoke alarm, the latter in the bedroom (no jokes thank you). We have a carbon monoxide alarm in the living room where the multi-fuel stove is located so it seemed pointless also adding a smoke alarm as it will be triggered whenever the stove is in use, thus the bedroom seems the best location . We will return to MCC again in the morning to check progress and show her to friends, which should prove interesting!

Thursday 9 May 2013

Rhino identified

Sunny,windy and relatively cold this morning. The rhino is busy moving his head and the weather vane has moved. Having found my tree book in the loft I think I have identified his DNA as a Corsican pine.
Plant identification has never been my strong point and short of raiding  the host garden for  a sample that is the best I can do. Apologies to Monty Don. 
I completed one of my infamous long walks yesterday, the first for ages. No incidents or after- effects, which is encouraging. I am now taking yet another pill to counteract another side-effect of my pill regime, this time a very itchy rash. It has yet to "kick in" unfortunately and the walk did not help the situation. Happy days. No news on my pill change although the gradual phasing out of happy pills seems to be going OK.  
We are going over to TARDIS Two today hoping to secure glasses, plates and cups etc in readiness for being removed from the water tomorrow. The plan is for me to stay aboard tonight so I don't miss a thing tomorrow having expanded my knowledge of blacking via dear old Google. 
In the meantime we are checking for any mooring vacancies in other Mariana's to allow us to move to a more friendly environment until we are ready to permanently cruise, safe in the knowledge TARDIS Two is finished, safe and suitable. I'll report on blacking operations tomorrow evening.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Pit Bull & St.Bernard/Poodle Hybrid

Raining and chilly today. Summer is over? Tardis Two will be removed from the water Friday to be re-blacked. It is just a bit frustrating as we had planned to show and demonstrate her to friends from London over the weekend and they will be making a special trip for it. We'll have to rearrange or take a ladder. We still have confidence in the build quality (I think) but after-sales service needs to be questioned. Failure to improve it will inevitably lead to lack of customer confidence/recommendation inevitably resulting in loss of sales and so on. You or me could resolve the problem overnight. Everyone knows Pit Bulls are not renown for sales,let alone after-sales service, whilst a St Bernard/poodle hybrid would not scare anyone away and is easier to deal with whilst keeping your hands intact. I've seen it many times before where you are a customer until everything is paid for and a hostage thereafter. Some people who are confident they have a job for life have a similar philosophy, although they tend to miss the customer stage and jump directly to the hostage scenario. If the cap fits? We will need to visit MCC before Friday to secure plates, cups and glasses. We also intend to be there Friday morning and stay throughout the blacking process. We need to be confident we can disappear into the sunset without needing to return to Stensen yet again. The return to lousy weather is some consolation I suppose and the further delay gives me a chance to familiarize myself with the new drugs as and when I get them. The glass half full/half empty theory.

Monday 6 May 2013

Weekend Reflections

A very mixed bag over the Bank holiday weekend. Firstly the weather. Typically variable for the holiday period covering all possible options with the exception of snow. Following yesterday's blistering sunshine Lynne's face resembles a beet root (only in colour I hasten to add in an attempt to avoid fatal injury.) To balance the equation my face resembles a chocolate Easter egg.
Tardis Two behaved impeccably, especially in difficult circumstances involving strange and life-threatening manoeuvres by two complete pillocks. The only downside being the strange and worrying loss of large swathes of hull blacking ( a layer of rubbery stuff applied to all narrow boat bottoms) which floated to the canal surface like spilled oil at sea soon after leaving Stenson marina. This will inevitably result in her being removed from the water to be sand-blasted and a new coat applied. Worryingly Marian told us she knew about the problem last week but failed to say why nothing was done about it at the time or why we were not informed prior to our trip. The failed catch on our sliding spice rack cupboard will also be attended to. There was worse news for the crew of Wegonanddunnit when large amounts of water needed pumping-out ( from the boat, not the crew) which will also result in removal from the water to check for leaks. The two fits on Sunday were worrying but the results were not serious enough for me to test my life jacket. The subsequent discussions regarding continuation (or not) of my boating career were particularly harrowing until a possible solution was agreed and found to work the following day. This involved keeping my blood sugar levels low, which seems to reduce the number of fits, and Lynne undertaking the bulk of driving duties. This mini crisis did little to help my scheme of gradually getting off the happy pills, but the exercise will continue, albeit slower than originally planned. Other than that the weekend was a great success with enhanced teamwork skills and subsequent relaxation levels. Yet again our plan of disappearing into the sunset has been delayed but at least all the hassles have occurred prior to leaving Stensen where they can, and have, been resolved. Every cloud has a silver lining. Talking of which, there were some spectacular wispy cloud formations yesterday but the lack of equally spectacular pylons took the edge off our excitement levels. UPDATE: My GP is really on the ball so to speak. She has yet to receive the vital letter from my new neurologist regarding changing my anti-fitting drugs, but will contact me by phone and issue a new prescription immediately it arrives. Tardis Two will be out of the water for re-blacking on Friday which rules out any weekend adventures or visits from interested friends and relatives. Remember what I said regarding choosing a good boatbuilder? This advice still holds true but it is a pity we ignored it ourselves. The boat is still good but the after-care is pathetic. We have yet to receive an explanation for failure of the blacking, which should normally last 2 or 3 years. We WILL get an answer. Watch this space.

Out of Africa

This will be shortish blog by way of return to terra-firma. As previously stated the Trent and Mersey canal is not the most picturesque I've seen. This photo of a dead tree adjacent to our first overnight mooring spot was the scenic highlight of the weekend. Adorned with vultures it could be anywhere in the wilds of Eastern Africa rather than the tranquility of Derbyshire..........In summary the weekend cruise was a great experience, enhanced by tropical heat today, Bank Holiday Monday, and reasonable weather prior. Healthwise Saturday and today were incident free, whilst Sunday was a disaster. A morning fit whilst steering created on-board havoc as I grimly held on to the tiller attempting to stay upright whilst Lynne tried to wrestle control of the boat from me. In the meantime we gently cruised into the canal bank and stopped whilst I regained my composure. Onwards we silently went to the next lock where I hopped-off Tardis Two to operate the paddles, only to suffer a "blank moment". Friends we were cruising with (Wegonandunnit)spotted my problem and helped with the lock until I got back on board. From thereon things went reasonably well until I was approaching a suitable night mooring spot very slowly. A sudden gust of wind forced me to make a glancing blow on the fenders of a moored tuppaware boat, the owner of which was justifiably very upset. It turned out he had a chip on his shoulder (or rather a box of lagers) regarding what he called "weekend cruisers". To say he was intoxicated would be an understatement but once he had vented his fury on us Lynne and Phil became firm friends, which saved us moving to another mooring spot. Wildlife-wise we spotted 4 swans on nests, one with four eggs. a skylark, cormorants and umpteen ducklings of various sizes. One strange sight was a World War two machine gun turret on the junction of the canal and the River Dove. Was this to prevent the invading German army following the river/canal to blow up the breweries of Burton on Trent, or the Luftwaffe using them as guidance to destroy the same vital war support factories? Being a long Bank Holiday weekend all the loonies were out on the water. One attempted to reverse moor on a particularly narrow section of the canal, blocking access to us and two other boats causing complete chaos. Another strange old boy was attempting to tow a boat stuck on a shallow canal edge, similarly blocking the canal. One lock we entered from the canal and emerged the other end into the River Trent without noticing too much difference, apart from road signs and bollards to segregate traffic. Following my fits the Wegonandunnit crew and Lynne discussed the best way of upholding my cruising dream in a safe way. Things looked bleak until this morning when Lynne offered to undertake most of the "driving" whilst I operate the locks and any "difficult" parts of canals/rivers. This arrangement worked well today, further improved by lunch at the Dragon. I have to say all this relaxation is knackering so I'm off for an early night.

Friday 3 May 2013

In memory

I know I said yesterday's blog was likely to be the last until Monday as I'm away cruising for the weekend but I felt the need for one more. Another sunny day. The brightness of yesterday in weather and mood was spoiled late last night when my best friend informed me his father had died, aged 88. Lovely man. Wonderful memories. Even through the sadness we can all gain inspiration from someone having a full life to that age without gaining enemies. It gives me something to aim for.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Michael Jackson

Sunny and very warm, just in time for a Bank Holiday weekend cruise. Today marked a milestone health-wise. My private consultation was an outstanding success and well worth whatever it cost. The consultant was almost human and not only spoke with and to me, but also actually listened. No bar codes tolerated. The hospital reception desk resembled a Hilton Hotel whilst the waiting room boasted padded armchairs and a coffee/tea machine with real china cups and saucers plus stainless steel cutlery. The magazines were up-to-date and of high quality, none of the usual "Hello" and "Saga" types. Unusually he gave me a very thorough medical once-over, reviewed my lifetime illnesses and health related experiences before giving some straight answers and advice. My vacant/dizzy spells are actual mini epilepsy fits and despite whatever drugs I take they will continue, the aim being to restrict the frequency. Eventually I will need an operation but in the meantime "normal" life should continue, providing I wear a lifebelt whilst on the boat. My car driving days are certainly over. He will write to my GP to advise on changing my epilepsy drugs (hopefully to one with less side-effects) and also recommends phasing out the happy pills, which certainly pleases me. Despite the lack of good news I walked out feeling a million miles high. My next appointment with him will be on the NHS in Leicester. We had lunch at the Stensen lock cafe, served by Marian with a smile. What is it they say about very young babies? Was that a smile or wind? The swans have built a pathetic "nest" next to the cafe. The worst choice of site if ever there was one. The only plus point being it is not a Polish cafe. The Sky man (memories of David Bowie?) visited the boat again this afternoon to investigate our lack of TV reception. By the time he left some sort of service was resumed, but we only offered to see if it continues working over the weekend otherwise he will need to remove his gear and refund our expenditure. Sitting on the back of Tardis Two in brilliant sunshine reminded me I only have to sit next to a lit candle to attain a deep suntan. By the end of the summer I should resemble one of those Spanish beach Pedalo "assistants". A sort of Michael Jackson in reverse. As I will be boating over the weekend life will be blog-less for a while. Have a good time in the meantime.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Kamikaze cats

At 0430 it is impossible to predict what todays weather will be. I'll confirm later at a more realistic time. The reason for my early awakening was a very loud metallic thump from the kitchen downstairs where our two guard cats spend the night. There followed a lengthy period of what sounded like metal being dragged around, plus I had a minor dizzy turn. Both events encouraged me to reluctantly get out of bed. Almost fully back into the land of the living I ventured downstairs to discover two cats queuing for food behind the kitchen door. Nothing unusual there. A cloth bag, normally stored on top of a very high kitchen cupboard above the microwave was on the floor and an extremely heavy metal casserole pot and an equally heavy lid teetered on the edge of the very same storage spot. Either being dislodged would almost certainly have resulted in at least one crushed cat, a destroyed microwave, badly damaged kitchen top, broken floor tiles and yet more noise. Luckily none of the aforementioned disasters occurred, with the exception of waking me up at some unearthly hour quietly swearing to myself. Needless to say I neglected to give the cats a very early breakfast, made myself some coffee, started blogging and returned to bed.0830 I finally emerged from my pit yet again, this time to brilliant sunshine and breakfast of scrambled egg on toast. Outside it is wind-free and warm, which is typical of England. I spent some considerable time fitting my "African" weather vane to the garden shed yesterday. Until then it had lanquished in the shed, having been transported here during our move last September. It basically indicates the wind direction and, of course, there is not a hint of wind today so remains in the position I placed it. Today is an ideal one for cruising which makes my current predicament all the more frustrating, to say the least. At this rate it will be autumn before we get away.Confirmation of my private appointment arrived today and, boy, am I looking forward to it. A light at the end of yet another tunnel? I now sympathize with how an earthworm feels. A friend has asked to view Tardis Two this afternoon so another visit is planned. I'm not sure it is a good idea but these things have to be faced I guess.