Monday 30 September 2013

Perfect affair

We had a trip to the marina yesterday rescuing essential items for home ( and having Sunday lunch cooked for us ) . The more I see of Barton marina the more I like it . The marina residents are friendly (most boaters are ) and the staff are equally so. The weather was brilliant and the transfer of our goodies and foodstuffs to the car went well. It was only when we were leaving I felt the urge to hug and kiss Tardis Two at the end of a warm and wonderful 6 month love affair, and all above board as Lynne had been there throughout. What more could you want ?  I have not made so many sacrifices over so many years to achieve this love affair to have it shortened  so much or stopped entirely. A further day hanging around waiting for a spare hospital bed to become available plus a doctor's appointment to check on my leg. All exciting stuff.
My leg passed it's examination with flying colours and should not have any affect on my planned operation (no infection) . It is certainly less painfull. 
Sunny day again so I'm hoping I don't miss good cruising weather whilst suffering hospital food. I apologise in advance for my blogs suddenly ceasing but I do not wish to inflict the daily routines of an intensive care ward on you, but rest assured, blogs will resume once I'm home again although I can give no indication of timescale at this point. Keep checking.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Life's crossroads

Supposedly there are crossroads in every life giving the opportunity of reflecting on life's past decisions.
It appears I may have reached a crossroads, deep into my journey. Due to my clinical depression and the search for reasons I have had ample reflection time previously so nothing new is likely to arise.
Recent studies have revealed anti-depressants interfere with blood sugar levels in diabetics, so I was wrong to blame the anti-fit drugs, sorry guys.
It is strange how things change quickly. We had planned cruising for a few more weeks in October, then basing the boat in a marina, but fortunately the latter has already been done and by the time we are ready to cruise next spring I should be fully fit. No fits, no dodgy leg. A few days hospital rest will also benefit my leg. Funny how everything , however grim, has a plus side.
When I had lymphoma over twenty years ago I had a very young daughter to get me through it and I'm sure she will do the same all these years later but no-one is going to dump her into my arms on my hospital bed this time ! Thanks to all the family and close friends for their support, particularly to Lynne.
I suspect Tardis Two and our new lifestyle will be used as the light at the end of yet another tunnel but I fully intend to use it.

Friday 27 September 2013

Sat nav mystery

We drove to Chester following sat-nav directions on A roads the whole way. No problem. Following a full days baby sitting we returned home,again following the same sat-nav directions. Motorways the whole way. Both trips took exactly the same time, but why the different routes? Strange but true. We did not ask for a solely motorway or non-motorway route. Had my bullet wound re-dressed this morning but walking is still not easy On a brighter note (I think) the Nottingham hospital phoned to book me in for an operation next Wedneday. My latest scan has indicated some changes in my tumour which they want to investigate asap.
The short notice is something of a blessing as it cuts down worrying time. Also my time recovering in bed will assist my wounded leg. The glass half full/ half empty syndrome.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Billy J Kramer

Foggy day so far but the sun is struggling to make an appearance. It's dustbin day today but all those months away on the boat have broken the habit of putting the bins out. Lynne remembered half way through a romantic interlude and rushed downstairs in her dressing gown to ensure our recycled rubbish reaches India or China as scheduled. Who said romance is dead? It never happens in a Mills and Boon novel. After all the attention it received my leg is a lot better today, thankfully. Lynne is going to move Tardis Two to her winter moorings before we disappear to Chester for baby-sitting duties tonight. Chester is a lovely city, having managed to combine all the modern facilities and shops  with  historic features, including a city wall and cobbled streets. The Billy j Kramer hit " do you want to know a secret " has stuck in my head since the weekend, which is odd as I hated it at the time it topped the charts. To put you out of your misery his backing group were called the dakotas.

Tuesday 24 September 2013


Warm and cloudy today. Very busy schedule in this order  :Doctors leg check, hospital x ray, dentist filling, Nurse leg dressing but the evening remains free. The X-ray results take a week to reach my doctor, which is tough luck if it is broken as I suspect it is. The dentist replaced my "crunchy moment" filling so I have a full set of knashers again and all my own. Unfortuneately the continuing leg saga will restrict our boat movements for the immediate future.
We have been booked for grandchildren-sitting duties in Chester later this week but we'll drive rather than return by boat due to time restrictions . 2 hrs by car versus 3 days by boat equals no contest.
The leg remains painful  but otherwise I am OK, no fits or side effects,all good news.

Monday 23 September 2013

Surprise, Surprise

Sunday 22nd was a brilliant day, the sun and very warm weather made a return for Lynne's birthday and all the hard work put into organising a special day reached fruition with satisfying great success ( and relief).The plan by our youngest daughter was for all our children, plus partners and 5 granddaughters to arrive on the boat ( out of the blue, so to speak) and then have a birthday meal/ celebrations at the Dragon pub in Willington. Sounds simple until you consider the distances various family members live away and the young ages of the grandchildren. The cunning plan concocted by our youngest daughter was for all to overnight in our house and us to be on the boat, thus making sufficient bed space for them all and the opportunity for a spectacular surprise on birthday morning. Her problems were the difficulties of getting the family together for a weekend several hundred miles away from home and organising the meal and a joint present from them all. My problems were keeping it secret from Lynne, organising the house for visitors and persuading Lynne to vacate it for the weekend for no logical reason. simple.
Literally at the last moment a request was made to borrow our blow-up mattress. A frantic search of the house, sheds and loft revealed it must be somewhere on the boat, 50 minutes away. I had to convince Lynne one of our neighbours needed it and she very kindly offered to drive to the marina and back, bearing in mind she had already driven to London and back for her hair appoinment(as you do).
We reached the marina trying hard to keep each oher awake, only to find we had left the gate key behind. A kindly boater let us in and the blow-up mattress was found in a hide away under our bed.
Having returned the mattress to our neighbours my next job was  convincing Lynne to once again return to the boat and sleep on it. Lynne was sleep-driving by this time and not altogether happy with the arrangement, until 10.30 the following morning when the boat was boarded by screaming/smiling/singing grandchildren bearing gifts.
The meal went well, rounded-off by a birthday cake and the traditional song.
The day ended in our local Accident and emergency unit where they checked-out my leg, upped the painkiller and anti-biotic doseage before sending us home again We spent only 20 minutes in the unit, which must be some kind of a record, surely?
Apologies for the out of sequence publishing of this blog caused by internet connection problems

Saturday 21 September 2013

Tapestry quiz winner

Carol King was the Tapestry answer. The album design was very complex and must have cost a fortune to copy onto a boat or was it owned by a bored old artist  with lots of time on his/her hands? On the same theme we have seen boats named "Gimme shelter" and "Let it be" ,but without copying the album designs. Witho no musical links we have seen "Baldrick" and "wave and smile". Tomorrow is Mrs. Blogs birthday so in celebration we travelled to London for her hair to be "done". ( as you women do) I am too discrete to reveal her age but the clue is she is one year younger than me. The day and journey started bleak and 50shades of grey,worsening through drizzle to heavy rain, the Watford Gap phenomena?  We travelled back in warm, bright sunshine

Thursday 19 September 2013


Early start this morning for a brain scan at a local ( luckily) hospital with amazingly low parking rates. A hospital where they can save your life without the need of a mortgage. In the event they could not switch the scanner on ( I was the first of the morning ) and what should have taken 15 minutes ended up taking an hour and a half ."Were they looking for your brain"? Was Lynne's response  when we were finally reunited. The delay upset their appointment schedule for the rest of the day apparently. I could say I had an extra hour and a half's lay down  but lying with your head in one of those noisy scanners can hardly be called relaxing. The poor doctor in charge needed a good lay down at the end.
Isn't it typical? You spend umpteen million pounds on the latest gadget in Curry's, get it home and the damn thing will not even switch on !
A warm sunny day and we are taking our winter clothes to the boat, but in Britain that is normal. No set seasons. Lynne had lent our sat-nav to a friend, resulting in our trip to our new marina including parts of Derbishire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Southern Scotland, to name but a few? Were shows of frustrated temper seen? No. was shouting experienced? No. Are we both still alive and uninjured? Yes. (Apart from my bullet wound, of course )


For readers not in the UK some explanations may prove beneficial as follows:
The Krankies are a Scottish "comedy " duo of a man and a woman who cross- dress. the woman playing the part of a naughty schoolboy and the man playing the part of a more serious and more mature schoolboy. Their humour is best described as childish, I think.
Locks are a very old,crude and successful mechanism for moving canals/rivers and boats up and down hills. Rivers find their own levels and canals were dug level, generally following the contours of the landscape. Each lock gate is constructed of wood and weighs 1.5 tons It has metal"paddles" attached which can be raised and lowered by a ratchet using a winder called a windlass, the cause of my leg injuries. In both cases the ratchets were worn(most are over 100 years old.) and the windlass slipped off and onto my left leg. Depite their-age and weight locks can be easily used if the gates are "balanced" and are well maintained.Some are.
Checking to dates blog has had around 7,500 hits, many thanks.

Wednesday 18 September 2013


Sitting up at 0200 hrs as my second ww2 bullet wound is giving me some grief, despite the anti-bacterial and pain-killing tablets. It can only be described as an active mount Vesuvius strapped to my leg.. I have conceded sleep for the night.

It never rains, but

Arrived at land-home the same time as lynne's sister and brother-in law who are staying the night to break a long journey home from Norfolk we looked like four tourists arriving at a hotel with stacks of luggage and blindly trying to find our way around. Boat-lag?It is amazing how quickly you forget where the cups and saucers are kept. No doubt it will be the same when we return to the boat in due course, having completed all our medical and dental appointments. We are missing the ducks and dawn chorus already.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Vet and doctors

Back at our land-home where we intend to stay for a few days whilst Pheobe gets the small lump on her side investigated and I sort out my second leg wound in the hope I can painlessly walk again. The vet has done a biopsy on the lump so we have to await the outcome, but apart from that she is her usual laid-back self. The only open your fridge once a day joke has spread nationwide in the boating community. Boaters up and down the canals often shout as we pass " I hope you haven't been opening the fridge too often" and fall about laughing which set me thinking what comedy roles the two who started the whole thing could fill. The list could include Little and Large, Mike and Bernie Winters or my favourite, The Krankies. Any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Phoebe had a biopsy on her lump and I am now on a programme of anti-biotics for my leg. It rained all afternoon which makes us feel better being off the Boat. 
Talking of boats we passed one named Tapestry and painted as a copy of the famous album cover. I was going to run a competition whereby the first person to name who made the album would be eligible for a Rolls Royce, but Lynne thought it may be too easy so I dumped the idea and sent the Lego model back. Sorry.

Monday 16 September 2013

Lights, camera, action, plan B.

A quiet night, as you would expect moored next to a churchyard. early start towards our car pick-up point but opted  for a late change of plan as we approached Barton marina in ever increasing winds. Barton is our preferred winter moorings for Tardis Two. the owner/manager is very helpful and friendly so we opted to moor there for a few days  whilst revisiting the place where Sadie went missing. The journey takes 1hour by car as apposed to 3 days by boat. None of the locals had seen her but re confirmed they would phone us if they did. Walking up the drive of a house near the canal a small black and white cat ran to greet us. She looked and sounded remarkably like Sadie but turned out to be Noodles, a cat belonging to the house owner. Hopes were temporarily raised and dashed. But the search continues. Despite the strong wind we somehow managed to get Tardis Two into the marina and onto a visitors pontoon, although it was a great struggle and required advice and assistance from a number of experienced boaters, without whom we would probably be halfway across the English Channel by now. We return to land-home in the morning as Phoebe has a lump on her side a vet needs to look at and I need my second bullet wound checking by a doctor. I had two small fits today, the first for several weeks.

Sunday 15 September 2013

At least Arsenal won

We did one of our middle of nowhere moorings last night. Phoebe went out mousing successfully and returned in good time. If only her sister had stuck by the rules. Our aim is to collect our car from  Stensen then return to Coven Heath for another cat search. The forecast for this afternoon was wind and heavy rain so we set off very early 0700hrs to get as far as possible before the downpour, which actually arrived at 0900hrs, somewhat early. We quickly moored outside the loo factory in Stavely to wait for better conditions, where I am jotting the start of this blog. Not the most convenient of outlooks but hey-ho.
The rain only lasted an hour so we set off again. Lynne looked up the relative journey times to Coven Heath. By car....1 hour.....By boat.... 3 days.
The Trent and Mersey canal follows the River Trent for many miles ( where have we heard this one before? ) but in a couple of places they decide to cross each other for reasons unknown. Both aqueducts hardly merit the name.
Before the next lot of rain arrived we had once again reached Arlewas where we treated ourselves to a good Indian meal and drinks with friends in the local pub. A good evening, weather excepted.
Phoebe went mousing in the churchyard without success and got drenched in the process. Healthwise it was another good day.
Sunderland 1. Arsenal  3 on Saturday, which means Arsenal are on top of the league. It is a few years since I was last able to say that.

Saturday 14 September 2013

East Midlands

As we travelled along the Staffs and Worcs yesterday several hints of our closeness to land home began to materialise. Plane noise, presumably from East Midlands airport and electric pylons, lots and lots of them. Everywhere else seems to manage without them, so why not here? They call the area around Birmingham the Black Country, but the street lights work, they watch Coronation Street and they charge their I-phones somehow, all without pylons. 
No news on Sadie yet but we confidently expect some soon, and the sooner the better. It is like living on a very sharp knife-edge, no humour, short fuses and the constant threat of rain. The "holiday"is well and truly over, but good news will change everything, like Sooty's magic wand.

Friday 13 September 2013

Searching for private Sadie

Having spent two days and nights at Coven Heath Sadie has yet to put in an appearance. We searched a nearby stables yesterday and canal side hedgerows (again)this morning with no luck plus circulated the usual "wanted" posters with contact details, all to no avail. We need to move for water and my hospital appointments but the village residents ( of both houses )have promised to let us know if she is spotted and look after her until we can collect by car or taxi.
 Perhaps we celebrated the success of having both  old cats aboard too early? It really had gone so much better than we realistically could have expected.
 In the event we are left with a boatload of illegal immigrant mice, destined to sell The Big Issue on the streets of Leicester, assist with the potato harvest and/or worsen the current housing crisis.
The day, as you would expect, was dull and grey. It rained yet again. With such supportive locals we are still hopeful of being reunited. The Staff and Worcs is much bendier than the Shroppie but is still picturesque. We spotted yet another kingfisher today, very close to the M6, which the canal follows for a couple of miles. In pouring rain we moored in Penkridge close to the river Penk. (No, I had never heard of it either). We have opted for mooring in a built-up area for a change as our one remaining cat will stay aboard overnight, sadly.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Cat nap 2

Once again we are moored in the middle of nowhere, but this time we have no idea where nowhere is. It is now 11.30  and Sadie has done another of her overnight disappearing acts. She was last seen around midnight when she brought back a gift of a very fat mouse, with which she was sent out with again. We are getting fed-up with these gifts, particularly when they are alive and very lively. The boat has many nooks and crannies, now probably full of mouse communities. The myth that cats keep houses mouse-free really is a myth. We started our Sadie search in warm sunshine and recently gave up in heavy rain. We have left our phone numbers  with the nearest residents we could find and will get a taxi back later if necessary, otherwise we will stay here until she returns.
1730 and we're still here. however, we've discovered our present middle of nowhere is actually Coven Heath. In fact the two houses our cat search took us to this morning ARE Coven Heath. The village of Coven is about a mile away and somewhat bigger, having a Co-Op, Chemist and fish and chip shop to It's name. Also a real butchers that sells books as a sideline. The local beef today was longhorn from a nearby village. A local sweet corn field is guarded by CCTV, which tells you a lot about today's society. I checked a boat moored about half a mile back on the canal for a confused black and white cat but it was crewed by maltesers ( I'm not sure what the official term for someone from Malta is ). Their English and my Maltese failed to connect, but suffice to say Sadie was not there. I can only assume the Maltesers did not enter the country via narrowboat but I am sure The Australians would have sunk them mid-channel.
With my hatred of war I was naturally drawn to Ian Hislop's The Wipers Times on BBC 2 last night. It was a satirical newspaper produced in the Belgian World War1 trenches by British troops near Ypres which grew more and more popular amongst front-line troops and the British public. It was a brilliant idea and an equally brilliant programme and very funny. Catch up with it if you can. ( us Brits could not pronounce Ypres, hence the Wipers title )

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Kingfisher catchup

Having finally moved ( very slowly ) back into a 3g. Area and getting blogged up to date we started the day in cool and drizzly conditions. As we passed an abandoned world war 2 aerodrome I swore I could hear a Spitfire above, but hidden by low cloud. Was it my old Battle of Britain memories coming back to haunt me? I'll never know. We stopped at a lovely village named Wheaton Aston for food supplies, only to find fresh fruit and vegetables to be in short supply at both village shops, but then discovered the village pub, the Coach and Horses, has a sideline selling fruit and veg from a stall in the car park. A local farm sold free-range eggs so all was not lost, although we then spent forever in a queue for the next lock, but made many new friends at the same time. We had lunch in Brewood whilst Lynne received some knitting advice from another boat crew.
Over the past few days we have almost doubled our kingfisher spotting, having now seen 5 since our boating adventures began. I am unsure if this is due to low numbers or the extreme difficulty in seeing them. The deep culverts on the Shroppie seem to suit them. Lots of herons too, all of them grumpy.They  stand on the bank whilst we approach  and take-off at the last moment, fly a couple of hundred yards ahead and the whole process gets repeated endlessly. As they are very large birds taking off and landing must waste lots of energy, so why they cannot fly to the rear of the boat and gain a longer rest
is beyond me. No wonder they are so grumpy.However, they are slim, so I can thoroughly recommend a fish diet plus exercise for anyone wishing to have a trim figure. It never stopped raining all day and we eventually moored somewhere on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal (  Staff and Worcs ) dripping wet but satisfied with our days exploits. The Staff and Worcs starts at Wolverhampton ( a sort of suburb of Birmingham, but none the worse for that ) and connects with the Trent and Mersey north of Burton ) . The first mile or so is very,very narrow through solid sandstone, with "passing places" every once in a while. Luckily we met nothing on the way. This has been a very good day again, healthwise. Problems, what problems?

She loves milk tray

A windy and autumnal ( as us English like to say ) day. No locks and hours of cruising, what could be better?  Chocolate, maybe?  in 1911 Cadbury opened a factory at Knighton next to the Shroppie where milk was supplied by motorised barges from the local farms. Cocoa and sugar were also supplied by barge, blended together to make raw chocolate and sent to Bourneville, again by boat, to make the famous finished delicacy. The last boat load carried from Knighton was in 1961, but the canal side buildings still remain. See photo.
Beyond Knighton is a massive cutting which took 6 years to complete and still suffers land-slips to this day. Because of the cutting depth bridges tend to be magnificent. The A519 goes over a double arched bridge, the middle arch supporting a very small telegraph pole, not now in use. The bridge has been reputedly haunted by a black, monkey-like creature since the 19th century.
The cutting eventually leads into Cowley tunnel, but blink and you'll miss it, even at canal boat speed. It is unlined and cut straight through sandstone, but the very deep cutting seems to go on forever. We eventually have moored near Lord Talbot's wharf, where milk was collected for Cadbury's. It has been an overcast day with a chilly wind, but we have made excellent progress almost along the Welsh border, but fortunately no passports required.

Perfectly mixed day

Yesterday had variety by the ton. With the exception of snow we had everything the weather could throw, plus scenery that swung from amazing to even more amazing. See photo's.
We started off In cool sunshine through Tyrel cutting to our first locks of the day, cut from pure sandstone rock, then on to Woodeaves cutting in light rain. It resembled the Amazon but without the heat. A speed limit of 2mph is imposed to minimise the risk of rock-fall, which obviously still occurs. The canal criss/crossed between Shropshire and Staffordshire which will continue today once we leave our mooring at Goldstone wharf, where there is nothing apart from a campsite and a pub. My health continues to be OK and we are enjoying our relaxed and unrushed lifestyles.
Apologies for the late publication. We seem to be in a 3G-free zone

Monday 9 September 2013

Audlem 0. Tardis 17

Cow abstract.we moored in a cutting.

We tackled the Audlem flight yesterday. 17 sets of locks raising the canal, and us, over 100 feet.
By the last few we were actually operating 2sets at the same time, such efficiency. Unfortunately the whole exercise was undertaken without assistance as there was only one-way traffic,although all locks were in "our favour", so whilst Lynne was exiting one lock I was already at the next opening the gates for her to drive straight in, which speeded things up considerably. We were both exhausted when we finally moored-up around 17.30 but there seemed to be no pubs/restaurants in the area. Getting to one involved walking back past the locks, which took ten minutes as opposed to the five hours on the boat.The Audlem Fly decided they were not "doing food", although the signs outside clearly stated they were.The Bridge said it was getting late to order food but took pity on us and offered a full menu. Luckily we skipped a starter and ordered main courses only. The food was good but when we went to order desserts we were told the kitchen had closed ! We returned to the boat, collapsed into bed and slept like logs (do logs sleep?)

Sunday 8 September 2013

Comfortably crazy

The title is a boat name which caught my eye and memory yesterday. We moored near a very small village called Acton on the Welsh border ( obviously not the London suburb of the same name ).  Yesterday was what I call a stripagram day, hot one minute, cold the next, causing major wardrobe problems. Jumper on, jumper off etc etc. This morning is a definite jumper-on one, but also sunny with a blue sky. We passed the Llangollen canal turnoff very reluctantly, lack of time being the only factor.instead we remain on the Shroppie heading South, our rough calculations indicating we can make it in time for my all-important appointments via this route, thus avoiding yet more days on the Trent and Mersey canal, not one of our favourites.  Time will tell.  Another "healthy" day yesterday which is good news and Tardis Two continues to perform as she should, which is also very good news. Yesterday ended on a low note as I stupidly watched a TV programme on 9/11 and had also stupidly forgotten it was the anniversary of Lynne's brother's death last year. I don't "do" death and have always cried during sad movies, even pre-depression, which stupidly caused me to  mentally list sad movies, for which I apologise.
1) Beaches
2) The mission
3) Dances with wolves
4) Little Big man
5) The notebook
6) Schindlers list
7) Love story
8) The graduate

One of the most joyous days of my life, prior to "owning" Tardis Two, was to be re-united with my long-lost Uncle Fred in Southern France a few years back, until he redrew our family tree, from the Rose coloured one supplied by my aunt, and graphically described the awful early life my mum suffered. Joy and tears that have haunted me since. The poor soul then had a diabetic son. Before the advent of sterile disposable needles and blood sugar testing kits it must have been hell looking after me, on top of frequent hospital visits and umpteen jobs to help make ends meet.
On a brighter note the sun is shining so it is time to cruise South.we passed this horse made from recycled wooden lock gates at Nantwich.

Saturday 7 September 2013


A bright and sunny morning following yesterday's washout, but with a cool breeze.the old bullet wound is now merely an impressive scar, but the newer one is following a similar healing process, helped with oregano spray and an oregano oil capsule 3 times a day (courtesy of Tigon Ltd )with the two scars I can boast to my grandchildren about my exploits in the Battle of Britain towards the end of World War Two, as long as they are too young to work out my real age.
view Beeston castle from the Shroppie.

Friday 6 September 2013

Mission accomplished

By any standards it was an unreal, but lovely evening. We met our son as arranged and he took us "home", a few minutes away, where we had a heartwarmingly big hug from both granddaughters and we watched a Disney movie before being returned to Tardis Two. The mooring obviously did not suit the cats as neither opted to go out during the night, although, to be fair, it did rain. It is not our favourite mooring either. We have become used to staying in remote locations with lovely dawn choruses, not Pidgeon's as here. We begin retracing our steps today, sad but true.
1500hrs. It has been persistently precipitating all day so we have moored somewhere in view of Beeston castle, or it would be in view if it wasn't raining. Built in the 13 th century it stands on a rocky outcrop over 500 ft high. If the weather was better we may well have visited.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Brilliant or Bonkers?

I have often stated how thin the line is between being brilliant and bonkers. Last night I was thinking ( as you do ) into which category famous people fit. My conclusions were: 
Tony Blair.......both. Bonkers for killing thousands but brilliant for making £millions from it but then again he did marry Cherie.
Spike Milligan........both
Robert Mugabe.......... See Tony Blair, although he didn't marry Cherie.

You can argue with the above or play the game with your own nominee's.
As you can see today started misty and beautiful. Canal mornings are quite unique. We aim to get nearer to Chester today where we have arranged to meet our son and two of our granddaughters, which makes this long trip worthwhile. We then head South again for my hospital appointments.
By lunchtime we arrived at our meeting point, the Cheshire Cat pub, and moored facing South next to a "wild" area ideal for the cats.
My love affair with the Shroppie continues. She is warm, cuddly and good fun, just like Barbara Windsor in her early acting days ( don't ask me how I know ) . If you are planning a canal holiday you can do no better than cruising the Shropshire Union and/or Llangollen (pronounced Lan goth Len) canals. The latter we had hoped to do this year but time is running away with us already, but I remember it well.
Healthwise I continue fit-free and generally feeling pretty-much OK, although Lynne reminds me the 3 weekly cycle is due again soon. Apart from a nasty and very itchy rash where I least need it the new drug has yet to show any side-affects, I think.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Coded progress

Another day on the Shroppie, sunny, hot and totally enjoyable. This really is a wonderful canal with fabulous scenery. It seems to be better maintained than others, although the few locks we tackled today were tough, but fortunately double so we had two crews to help at each.we have arranged to meet our eldest son at the Cheshire Cat pub near Chester tomorrow evening thus ensuring today's cruising was leisurely. We have moored as usual in the middle of nowhere conveniently close to the Shady Oak pub. The mooring last night proved exciting for the cats as they were chased through the cat flap by at least one mink in the early hours. Mink are particularly aggressive creatures and make a very distinct squeaking noise. Luckily they chose not to enter the boat as I am unsure what our defence would have been. Perhaps we should sleep with a pistol under our pillow?
The Shroppie is well geared for recreational use but was one of the last canals to be used commercially in the 1960's, transporting oil from Liverpool docks to the Midlands
Some of my blog titles titles are now becoming  Coded but you will need to wait until they are published to break it, sorry.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Jewel in crown

The Shropshire Union, or Shroppie, as she is affectionally known, is the jewel in the crown of Britain's canal system. Fabulous scenery and no Scary bits, with easy mooring (apart from a below-water ridge,allegedly put there by the builders for a laugh ) it is the perfect introduction to canal boating. As a result the morning has been a good one, with no locks so far. We've moored in the middle of nowhere, about 6 hours from Chester, where we hope to be re-united with our youngest granddaughters, or not,depending on the prevailing mood. The weather is boiling hot again, which reminds me of a story I meant to relate yesterday. On our way out from Middlewich Lynne decided a major food shop was required, which necessitated a half mile walk to Morrisons. With a large trolley overloaded with eggs, milk, meat and veg we considered hiring a taxi back to the boat but finally decided to "borrow"the trolley and walk it back to the canal bridge nearest Tardis Two. As you know supermarket trolleys are reknown for going their own way, even on level surfaces, but on sloping pavements and hills they are something else !!! Despite strange looks from passers-by and the odd tussle with a push-chair  or two we got along pretty well in the heat. I returned the trolley with similar strange looks and push-chair tussles to be greeted by the customer services assistant with Lynne's credit card which she had left at the till. Lucky, or what? If we had not borrowed the trolley and returned it instead of dumping it in the canal our credit card would have been lost. No boat diesel, no meals out, no life.
Canal water here has returned to the normal beige.

Monday 2 September 2013

Perfecting perfection.

A bright morning but temperatures are on the decrease at a fast rate, sweaters and jackets are being retrieved from wardrobes and cupboards. Maybe it's because we have reached further North. On the map we are on a par with Liverpool and Manchester. Middlewich is a nondescript sort of place, merely a junction for several canals, so the chances of us taking a wrong turning have got to be high. Fingers crossed. Without wishing to tempt fate I have had several fit-free days and generally feel OK, but we are getting to the point of my 3-weekly cycle soon so again fingers crossed. We got to Kings lock within minutes but Lynne had already begun baking a loaf between captain's duties. I set the lock gates and nipped into the Kings lock chandlery to tell them we needed diesel and to check the price. By the time I returned to the lock Lynne had emerged from the galley and gave me a going over for not telling her where I was going. The fact she wasn't there to tell seemed irrelevant. We needed to moor alongside a broken-down boat to get near the diesel pump,but Lynne had the sudden urge to check her bread again, leaving me and the chandlery owner giving instructions to thin air. Embarrassing or what? We filled with diesel and set forth up the Shropshire Union canal, Middlewich branch round a tight bend and narrow bridge, during which the loaf remained the most important feature. Heated words were exchanged and we managed to get through the first lock.
The first rule of sailing is that the captain should never leave the bridge during manoeuvres ( unless you are Italian and in charge of a large,fully loaded cruiser).