Wednesday 31 December 2014

Frozen

INew Year's Eve started in arctic temperatures, but pretty all the same. Lynne is dismantling the minimalist Xmas decorations around me ( not that I was decorated, but you know what I mean ). Normality returns for another year, whatever that is.
As if to emphasise this feeling Arsenal are up to fourth in the league, their traditional position.
After a trip to the village I chose to sugar soap the second half of the kitchen ready for painting ( I completed the first half before Christmas ). This time I was accompanied by the Cat Stevens greatest hits album which passed the afternoon wonderfully, although as usual I was unable to work through "Lady D'Arbanville" and " How can I tell Her" without having a tear in my eye, whatever mood I'm in at the time. These two songs ( and " Hard Headed woman" ) were written at the time he and Patti D'Arbanville were having an "affair", prior to her moving-on to Mick Jagger. Chalk and cheese ?  Before anyone jumps to the conclusion I'm depressed the answer is B######s. I cannot remember happier times,as it happens, to coin a Jimmy Saville phrase.


Tuesday 30 December 2014

And then there were two, plus cat

A sunny, mild day for returning Margaret, Bob and dogs home to Ashridge, which was achieved without problem. Lunch was achieved at the Brownlow cafe after a considerable queue, after which Lynne and I returned home, again without problem. Needless to say, we were knackered, somewhat comforted by a large number of whiskey and diet cokes. 
Another early night was on the cards, no argument.

Monday 29 December 2014

Red Lion lunch

A non-exciting day, other than lunch at the Red Lion in Rothlea once again. The day is sunny and cold, but most of the snow has gone. Margaret, Bob and dogs are returning to their home tomorrow.
Healthwise I'm feeling pretty good, but sleep for Britain when allowed. Roll on cruising ! 
The lunch was wonderful and extremely filling . Everyone slept for the afternoon.

Chester return by road


Our eldest northern grandchild's birthday so we set off in icy conditions for her "party" on our own, as the majority of family opted out due to the weather and other "issues". Despite our reservations we were unusually welcomed, fed and watered. A good time was had by all. We had the option of an overnight hotel stay or returning home. As the weather had not worsened we returned home through freezing fog in Stoke. Strangely more snow remained in The Stoke area than anywhere else but other than that the journey was OK.  

Saturday 27 December 2014

Snow,snow,snow

Leaving the restaurant last night we were hit by a very slushy snowstorm of particularl ferocity, leaving a 2 inch layer over everything this morning, resembling one of those cute old fashioned Christmas cards.
I have yet to test the temperature but it is bound to be cold, despite the sunshine.  
In fact it was not too cold as I spent the morning clearing snow from our garden. There are signs of new leaves on the clematis plants and the daffodils are growing at a fair rate. Signs of spring? Tomorrow Lynne and I have another grandchildren visit to Chester planned. It was supposed to be a family gathering but it seems unlikely to happen, which is sad, but given the snowy and icy conditions it is understandable. Indeed, I would prefer not to risk the journey myself but I'm not prepared to let Lynne go alone.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all blog readers.
We had a leisurely start to Christmas Day, a small breakfast and an equally small lunch, preparing us for a blow-out evening Christmas dinner. Note, not much excercise.
My Christmas present turned out to be a pair of wonderful Sennheiser earphones which I made full use of. It really improves my listening pleasure.
Other presents for the boat  include an extremely bright LED torch and an everlasting candle without candle wax or a flame, clever eh?
The dinner, as expected, was huge and delicious, so once again we flubbed in front of the TV for the evening before an early night dragged us away.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Bin nightmare

For some reason I  awoke around 0200 hrs worrying I had put the wrong bin out on the wrong day, partly due to me getting confused over Xmas day. It turned out I may have been right but we have yet to discover any revised collection plan, having received no previous notification, which is unusual.
Panic over, the bins were emptied before lunch. At least it gives us a week to confirm next week's collection arrangements.
Sunny and unseasonably warm today providing you kept out of a very chilly wind. Lynne dropped us and both corgi's at the main gate of Bradgate park, picking us up at the Cropton Road exit after a brisk downhill walk of about an hour.  The drive and walk routine proved very successful but tiring, particularly for Bob who flaked-out for the remainder of the day. After a tasty roast pork dinner I felt like joining him ( in a heterosexual sort of way ).

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Excitement levels rising

Two days to go before yet another Xmas passes us by and the excitement mounts, or at least what passes as excitement at our age.
Lynne offered us a mystery car trip which we and the dogs immediately accepted. To cut a long story short we eventually arrived at "our" Marina where we walked round the larger lake in fairly warm sunshine, providing you were well insulated against a cold wind. After an award winning hot chocolate in the cafe I grabbed my electric razor and bow saw from the boat and we returned home as the wind got colder and colder. The boat had been winterised so that concern was minimised. The same concern related to our pork joint for tea, which we had forgotten to take out of the freezer. Tea plan B was quickly formulated.

Monday 22 December 2014

Nowhere to go

For the first time this millennium we have nowhere to go, other than get some foodstuff. Thumb-twiddling time.
Talking of twiddling , Arsenal managed to yet again snatch a draw from the jaws of a win against 10 man Liverpool, leaving it to the 98th minute to concede a soft equaliser. Frustrating or what? 
Weather overcast and cold wind. I will convince myself to go for a walk this afternoon as I'm feeling increasingly good in spite of gradually reducing the happy pills. It seems strange the damn things major side effect is increasing depression. I suppose it is the big drug companies way of increasing sales in a saturated market, or am I being cynical?
No hip problems today, despite a long walk in gale force winds and washing the car in worsening conditions plus darkness.


Sunday 21 December 2014

Meeting ourselves coming back

On the way back from London we collected Margaret, Bob and dogs for the trip to Leicestershire. The car was packed to the gunnels, whatever they are? 
We slobbed-out for the afternoon watching Tom Hanks in "The Terminal", a great film even on second viewing.
The weather outside gradually got colder and colder, but we were cosy indoors and relied on our local chippy for tea. Minimum fuss or hassle.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Family Xmas meal

Overslept for second day running, but what the hell.  We're off for our family Christmas dinner. Look for later report, assuming a slow acting food poisoning bug is encountered, otherwise watch the news.
The meal was excellent, if over-long at 4 hours for two courses, although the company was fun.
A good time was had by all.
The weather remained sunny but became increasingly colder as the day progressed . Back at the flat and fully stuffed we all flaked out on the sofa for the evening.
Like nomads we're on the move again in the morning, homeward bound.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Christmas travels start

Lynne and I are off to London today, firstly staying with Chloe for another hair job ( not me ) and a family Christmas dinner at the Shy Horse meticulously organised by Chloe once again. If you ever want an event on the top of Mount Everest or on the Galápagos Islands and can't be bothered with all the logistics and hassle , Chloe is your girl.
She was also an early "filter" for my blog, ensuring nothing was printed likely to cause an international incident. Lynne has recently taken over this role but considerably toughened the rules,  fishing for a job with Russia, Korea or China, I suspect.
The journey South in brilliant sunshine was OKAY, apart from the low sun shining directly at us. Petrol is at the lowest price I can remember.(112p a litre)
I suspect we will see Arab Sheiks selling The Big Issue sometime soon.
I had the option of going to watch league bowling after tea of sausage and mash or slumming-it in front of the TV. Given my current hip condition I chose the latter. Meantime Lynne was at the hairdressers.

 

Back to dry land

Our last night on the boat prior to returning home for our Christmas arrangements. Once again the boat was cosy, resulting in us sleeping-in longer than planned. Weather dry and breezy. 
My acid indigestion seems to be returning but I have opted to ignore it as the side-effects of the control drug are horrendous if used long-term. I am perfectly able to live with the problem, so in my recently imposed "you decide" situation I have made a decision to do just that.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Warm and frosty

I awoke  to a cosy, warm boat after a good and lengthy sleep.  At least we have Christmas and family to improve the personal climate a little. Today is our last day aboard for a while but the workshop will winterise her (Tardis Two) once we return to land .It has been a relaxing time, albeit short and non-mobile, but overall it has done me a power of good and, in the meantime, we have mastered the multi-fuel Stove once again. Mentally I'm feeling pretty good but physically I still have the right hip problem. However, at this stage I am quite prepared to tackle only one problem at a time.
Weatherwise today is bright and very breezy.
As we were short of a few basic essentials I volunteered to go shopping in the marina, only to find I was up earlier than the shop owner. Undaunted I set forth to explore Barton Under Needwood, beyond the lakes, several cricket and rugby pitches, a swimming pool and a large  fishing pond with fountain to discover a large village/small town with several pubs and shops. Quite picturesque overall. My right hip restricted my discovery adventure and speed, but I made it back for lunch only to be informed we had run out of water, not surprising after several days and showers aboard.

Monday 15 December 2014

Thermals

Although the outside temperatures were warmer than we have become accustomed to, inside the boat was noticeably cooler, resulting in me seeking warmer clothing during the night. As we are only aboard for a few days we have avoided unpacking our bags, hence finding anything is a far bigger challenge than would normally be the case, particularly in partial light. I was reluctant to switch on the main lights to avoid waking Lynne so found only my wooly hat and gloves, plus an additional tee shirt and socks before returning to bed. With a little imagination you can possibly picture the scene which must have resembled a North Pole expedition camp. Bear in mind my body's inability to withstand relatively low temperatures since my treatment. The multi-fuel stove was still alight but far less efficient than previous nights, for reasons we are currently investigating. The central heating boiler is set to go off at 2200hrs and restart at 0600hrs. ( to prevent the boat interior reaching sauna conditions during the night !!!!! ).
Adjustments will be made tonight, subject to the results of our investigations/conclusions

We've Sussed out the Squirrel stove functions and will adjust the boiler timings so it shuts down much later at night and kicks-in earlier in the morning. By midday you could roast an ox in here. It is sunny with showers outside but reasonably warm, in a late Decemberish sort of way.
Lynne returned to bed this morning in an attempt to catch up on missed sleep so I replaced the broken door catch, ( the doors still stick when closed, but we're hoping they will self correct once they dry out, but getting in or out in the meantime should be fun. Apparently shaving bits off both doors is best avoided as this leaves a large gap once the summer weather returns, but in the short-term we have exit and entry problems, a no-win situation.
The marina office now have copies of our insurance and canal licences for their files, as requested.

Comparisons

The After a peaceful night on the boat I thought I would start the day with some festive photo's illustrating the difference in perceived wealth ( or lack of it ) between generations these days.
The first tree is our's at home. A "recycled" 6ft tree. The second, albeit in a much bigger room, is in our eldest son's home. A new 12ft tree ( with an extension unused due to ceiling height restrictions ). Interestly we both claim to be financially " on the bread line".   No further comment other than Happy Christmas.
The boat was toasty-warm this morning, despite freezing outside temperatures. The multi-fuel stove was still churning out warmth, much to Phoebe's delight. 
I'm due a hospital appointment in Leicester today, which should prove interesting. It is with my 
Counsellor who, last time, I ended up counselling. He is being made redundant and suffering depression, poor chap.
In the event, he is still working and like me,much better. More apologies for the lack of counsellors and counselling, a bit late if I had already jumped in front of a train. My counselling nurse is confirmed as left, another one bites the dust. However, we made some progress today and it has been agreed I can continue gradually reducing the happy pills to nil which is great news for me. It is good the medical  profession is keeping pace with me at long last.
The boat was warm on our return as was the weather.



Sunday 14 December 2014

Clear sky and Fuzzy head.

Yippee, we've made it to the boat, complete with cat. The intention is to stay here until at least Thursday.
In discussion with someone who knows far more about boats than we do a decision has been made to winterise the boat at the first opportunity to avoid costly frost damage to the water pump and calorifier. The downside is doing so severely limits our winter boating trips, but hey-ho , an early summer start should compensate. 
The boat break got off to a poor start when we found it impossible to open the doors to the cabin. The cold and wet had expanded the doors and virtually welded them together. Applying a bit of force and WD40 got us aboard, but at the expense of a broken security bolt. Hopefully heating the boat will shrink the doors so they fit again. Time will tell.
I am keen to get off the "happy pills" at the first opportunity, but conversely Lynne is keen to keep me on them for as long as possible. I do not propose to explain why at this point, and certainly not on the Internet.
We are heating the boat via kindling and coal, successfully so far.
However, it feels great to be back afloat, even for a short time. 


Friday 12 December 2014

Baby sitting

Don't ask me how but we have managed to get "volunteered" for Christmas shopping baby-sitting in Chester, involving an early start in very frosty conditions. On the way up to Chester we accidentally passed near Tarporley, a village or town where Nick, Lisa and girls are moving early in the new year. From the outskirts It looks quite impressive and far more countrified than their present location. Nick and Lisa escaped to shop in Manchester leaving us to entertain the girls    ( or was it the other way round ? ) On their return we left for home and some sustenance,escorted by Nick in his car to show us his new house, far, far, far, smaller than their present one. Where the hell are they going to fit all the kids toys ? The town/village centre is a quaint mixture of old and new houses and at least half a hour nearer to us.
A KFC tea and quiet night in. We know how to live, us old uns.

More confused . com

Chloe and Lynne are attempting to finalise Christmas plans. A Christmas meal has been booked at the Shy Horse in Chessington but getting everyone there is proving problematical. I've kept well out of it as the longer the situation goes on the more stress seems to be generated, which is something I wish to avoid, thank you. I am getting more and more confused by the ever changing logistics which would give Eddie Stobart a severe headache. Having chunks blasted out of your brain does little to help ease confusion, believe me, but it is best to keep issues like that to yourself if you want to avoid the funny farm or increased anti-depressants.
Plans have (I think) been finalised to visit the boat later next week, which may involve staying aboard for a few days. Oops, I've said it now, which is guaranteed to scupper it ( the plan, not the boat ).

Thursday 11 December 2014

Retinal screening

With diabetics these days the NHS checks our eyes every 6 months to monitor any deterioration as gradual blindness is one problem common to diabetics. My latest test was this morning, result in 2 weeks. I wear glasses to read but otherwise my retina's have remained fairly stable since the tests began around 10 years ago, although the good old NHS managed to lose the earlier comparison photo's when we moved to Leicestershire. So much for electronic records staying with you for life.
Today is sunny again but with a breeze cold enough to quickly remove your ears. Our plans are fluid for the want of a better description. In other words we don't have any ( that is not actually true. Lynne has hers and I have mine but whether the two will merge at some point remains to be seen.) She/he who has the car keys and a driving licence is king.
In the event we put up the Xmas tree and decorations and I went for a boredom-relieving walk in a truly eye-watering freezing wind, ordering replacement Xmas decoration bulbs in the process. The guy who runs Anstey hardware store can order absolutely anything for delivery the next day if it isn't already in stock.  He has yet to let me down, touch wood.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Search for meters and home

Still at Tom's and everyone gone to work, when the gas and electric meter reader turned up . We searched all the obvious places without luck, but a phone call to Tom solved the mystery. Both meters were nowhere near our search areas but at least the reader got some extra time in the warm ( it is very cold outside ) and Tom should receive a bill close to reality. Talking of cold, I took pity on a very cold "Big Issue" seller in Chessington who had asked if I wanted to buy a copy several times during the past few days. Each time I declined but I must be getting soft and old as I finally relented. The frozen, but  persistent immigrant pays £1 for the magazine and sells it for £3. ( Christmas edition only ). But it is crap and a gesture of goodwill I will not repeat in future. I was going to say at least it keeps him off the streets, but of course it doesn't.
Our plans have finally crystallised and we are now returning home this morning to warm-up the house and boat. 
For me the last few days have been very restful and stress free, basically spending valuable time withTom/Hayley and Chloe or listening to my new Usuf/Cat Stevens album,partially mixed with some of his older Greatest Hits on a continuous loop.  What more could I want?
We returned home in brilliant sunshine without drama.

Monday 8 December 2014

Sun and warmth plus Christmas shopping.

The title says it all really, but I suppose I'm expected to write something more?
Back-up plan 3 is now for Lynne to work tomorrow and we toodle off home in the evening, with a trip to the boat scheduled for Thursday, but none of the aforementioned is set in stone so don't hold your breath, I'm not,but back to today. The plan is to complete my Xmas shopping with a gift for someone special in my life who, for once, will not be alongside me today, giving me the opportunity for a rare surprise and better gift-wrapping ( Chloe )than I could ever achieve. It's a man thing apparently.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Ditto ( only colder ).

It looks like Christmas should look, white, but with frost, not snow. Lynne is working a short day and I plan to travel by bus to meet her there, by way of entertainment and something to do. Chloe is taking me for lunch and shopping tomorrow, which should be enjoyable and worthwhile, given that I will at least have something to spend following Lynne's moral victory earlier this week. I fortunately spent most of my working and early retirement years having money in my pocket so being destitute for so long was far from easy, hopefully soon to be history.
Believe it or not, the frost quickly turned to light rain. This can only happen in the UK but I am unsure if we can still call it that, having recently lost Scotland.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Not so mild frost ( cold )

A very cold morning raising the issue of boat winterisation again, we will address it when we return home mid-week. We also plan to live aboard for a few days soon to warm the boat up and I plan to stay onboard  if Lynne works in London between January and April, once I convince her I can survive on my own afloat (in the marina, of course ). Quiet day planned, but I've said that before.                  Chloe has promised ( threatened ) to take me Christmas shopping Monday, which was in doubt until Lynne re-secured work for this weekend. Finances were real knife-edge stuff prior to that. No work = no presents, simples.
A quiet day materialised, but it didn't get any warmer.
Arsenal treated their match with Stoke as one of two halves, losing the first 3...0 and winning the second 2......0.         You do the maths.

Friday 5 December 2014

QE2 confusion

"We are in sunny London having travelled 200 miles down the M1 last night in atrocious conditions. Fog and road spray. Lynne managed to turn left at the M1/M25 junction, instead of right, as I was "dozing".  
Thus I was a little confused when I became Compus-Mentice again just as we were crossing the Queen Elizabeth bridge over the river Thames. The penny eventually dropped once I was made aware of Lynne's earlier directional fo-par and we arrived at our intended destination without further confusion. A pleasant evening was had by all until we departed to battle against the seemingly endless roadworks. It appears the whole ( I was tempted to type hole ) of the M25 is being resurfaced.
Lynne, who hates driving, must have been knackered, hence the East/West confusion,I guess.
For those of you unfamiliar ( ? ) with theM25 it is essentially a ring-motorway around London which generally resembles the World's biggest car park. It gets extra lanes added every year to increase parking capacity and is the World's biggest advert for traffic cones.
We are now in the tranquility of Tom and Hayley's Chessington flat, where we expected to be for several days while Lynne worked at the wedding shop, covering for one of the staff on holiday. Our plans were thrown into confusion around 10.30pm last night when Lynne received a text from the shop cancelling the arrangements for today and beyond. Lynne ignored the text and went to work anyway. I wish I could have been a partially deaf fly on the wedding shop wall when she arrived.
Lynne won the "discussion", needless to say, so it looks like back to plan A.

Thursday 4 December 2014

"Mild" frost

Virgin on the cold, springs to mind. Winter drawers on, but I'll stop there.
We're off to London today. This evening we will attend our traditional World Wildlife Fund Bromley Supporters Group Xmas get-together in Chislehurst, Kent. At the height of the "Save the Whale and the Tiger" campaigns in the 1960's I was very actively involved in fundraising activities for WWF UK Bromley Supporters Group, the most successful in GB,raising several thousand pounds for conservation work across the world. Inevitably the committee members retired,died or moved away and the group folded, but a reducing group of ex-members meet at Xmas to talk about the "good old days". We will stay with Tom and Hayley, giving Lynne the opportunity of working at the wedding shop again, then home or boat for Christmas.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

2015 forecast

Scientist's predict a very warm 2015, which is encouraging for boating but is allegibly part of the "global warming" scenario. Man made ? I have yet to be convinced but accept that until we stop deforestation in Brazil, Africa and Asia we have little defence against the accusation. Intelligent species ? I don't think so.
However, it is cold today which leaves us with a dilemma. Do we winterise the boat and restrict our "nice weekends" movements, or any movements till spring, otherwise risking expensive water pump replacement ?  My preference is to put an anti-frost heater on board and/or live-aboard occasionally, perhaps whilst Lynne works in London ? I'm quite happy to give it a go, but I'm not sure Lynne trusts me not to fall in or survive at all on my own, given recent history, which I accept. Ho-hum. Decisions, decisions.
Arsenal v Southampton was supposed to be on Sky tonight, but could we find it? Could we hell. It was on one of those "pay extra" channels. We pay for Sky sports already so that is a major saving we can make in the New Year without losing anything useful.
I followed the match via the Arseblog live blog and Arsenal scored in the last two minutes, winning 1 - 0 ( sound familiar?). The end of another good day.

Tuesday or Sunday ?

A good nights sleep, but I got up convinced today is Sunday, Lynne and my IPad quickly  confirmed it is Tuesday. Close, but that's retirement for you.  Does it matter?  Only for appointments I suppose.
A sunny day with a freezing wind, an ideal test for my new jacket.

Monday 1 December 2014

Administration

Today is allocated to administration, mainly concerning an issue that arose when Lynne fell foul of the car parking system ( or lack of it )  at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Burton at the start of last summer's adventure, resulting in having to deal with "Big Brother" technology , loads of computer generated paperwork. and ,ultimately, the small claims court. Lynne has opted for the mediation service which involves a real human and a telephone conversation (remember those?). To add to the issues our printer has "given up the ghost ", so we need to borrow a friend's. He kindly printed what we needed to allow us to fit our response within the tight timescale.
With computer ink cartridges outstripping the price of a new printer our decision to replace rather than repair was easy to make, so we returned from Leicester John Lewis with a recommended Hewlett Pakard model, which took Lynne a long time to set up and wirelessly connect to our two computers.   
I am very proud of her. From a technological amateur to her present computer expertise within a very short timespan is truly remarkable. Watch your back, Terry. !!!!
I've enjoyed a good day via a positive attitude. Reflecting our current, but very short-lived, period of solvency I have invested in a new "boating coat" and trainers from the January sales, which strangely started before Christmas this year.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Pinball wizard

I am up and about again at the slightly more acceptable 7 am but given up on trying to sleep so I'll call it an early start, have my injection and breakfast, another cup of coffee, stick some clothes on               ( I showered last night ) and wander into the village for a paper, hoping some fresh air might clear what's left of my brain. The paper is actually unnecessary as the IPad gives me all the news I need without leaving the house, but not fresh air, although every action in life must have a logical outcome. There is method in my madness. The pinball has slowed considerably but has a couple of seemingly Iimpenetrable  spots it needs to clear before I have any chance of hitting the jackpot.
"If you never risk to lose,
 you may never get to win,
  If you never venture out you will see nothing".
                                                        ( Yusuf Cat Stevens )

Sleepless in Anstey

Something got stuck in what's left of my brain which transformed itself into a pinball machine. I have always been a great Who fan ( although strangely they are missing from my current music library, a casualty of my transfer from vinyl to CD and ultimately IPad, I guess ) "Tommy" I am not........Deaf,dumb  ( i.e. Thick )  and  getting short sighted maybe, but a pinball wizard? , forget it .    Anyway, I digress.   It's 4 o clock in the morning and far too early for the tsunami  to have deposited any gems of ideas/outcomes in my head so I'll make a coffee and collapse back into bed, hoping my jumble of thoughts will unravel into something that makes sense by the "real" morning.

Sugar soap found.

As expected, Lynne knew exactly where the sugar soap was "placed", so I am back in business in that respect. No surprises but it is raining again. Lynne enjoyed her stay in London but we are already "back in the groove",watching the rain. We have been invited out for lunch this weekend, but otherwise nothing planned, as usual, although I intend getting over to the boat by hook or by crook ( taxi ?) next week. My webbed feet are receding.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Calm after storm

Following last night's revelations careful control of my blood sugar, inevitably based on a certain element of guesswork,62 years experience and regular testing ( in the absence of prescriptive scientific recommendations) I awoke with an excellent blood sugar reading of 5.4, having gone to bed with a horrific 28.1.( not bad for an idiot ). Keeping the readings around the 5.4 mark should not prove a problem throughout the day, but analysing how I got to the hypo level in the first place will prove difficult, given the pathetic power of my current brain memory cells. Maybe I won't bother , given the incident has been and gone, but my future is ahead of me and I feel good this morning.
At least the rain has stopped but the day is grey and overcast. Lunchtime blood sugar reading 5.4 again, so pretty stable, but I know it tends to drop during the afternoon so will need monitoring.
5.6 mid afternoon and 5.4 before tea, so I'm very happy overall­čśÇ. Lynne is returning to me on top of my game. It started raining again by mid afternoon, surprise, surprise. I was aiming to finish sugar soaping the kitchen but my sugar soap box has mysteriously disappeared, so I'm hoping Lynne will have an idea where to find it?

Rain,rain go away

It hasn't stopped raining since records began and Arsenal won in some style for the first time..........since records began.  Record changing times. Talking of records, apparently vinyl is making a comeback, but I'm still pleased with downsizing my collection and the substantial funds raised assisted our lifestyle change substantially. No regrets.   Despite the rain I awoke late this morning  feeling great, no fuzzy head, no aching hip, only a loudly snoring cat ruining the peacefull scene.
The iPad is still  randomly and endlessly playing tracks from my album collection, but I must remember to recharge it soon or find out how to stop it, although I'm very happy with the way things are, thank you.
Continuing the happy theme I can reveal I have chosen to cook a roast chicken dinner tonight, courtesy of Aunt Bessy, Tesco and the wonders of microwaves.
Footnote:      I removed the aforementioned dinner from the freezer after lunch, tested my blood-sugar level, which was OK, and retired to bed for my "normal" afternoon snooze. "Sometime soon" I was woken by my mobile phone in the kitchen and got up somewhat confused, as was Phoebe. We both wandered about  for a while until I realised the time was 17.30, well past Phoebe's and my tea time. My blood sugar reading was 2.7, very low, so I drunk a bottle of Lucozade, by which time our neighbour Julie arrived, alerted by Lynne who, by this time, had left 6 messages on my mobile phone.
A few chocolate biscuits and back in the land of the living later I contacted Lynne for a more "informed chat". Crisis over. My roast dinner went into the microwave, followed by a treacle pudding, and my blood sugar rose to 9.8. Much better.  Julie regularly checked on me throughout the evening (bless her) when all returned to "normal" and my bed beckoned, having spoken to Lynne again, who returns home tomorrow evening ( I think ).


Tuesday 25 November 2014

Living alarm

My alarm this morning was Phoebe, who somehow by-passed my usual upstairs cat security arrangements and woke me at 0500. She actually saved me time and effort as one option for me this morning was to pump up my bike tyres for a trip to the dentist, but in fact it was raining heavily which limited my transport options to the bus.
Dare I say it, but today was quite a success for a complete idiot like me. I arrived at the dentist's at the right time and right day and I have now got the hang of the local buses and their idiosyncrasies. The craters in my teeth are filled and eating no longer threatens my tongue in any way.
The walk back from the dentist's was uneventful ( around 2 miles ) and my right hip complained less. At some stage I will have to get someone to investigate the hip, but as I want to get out on Tardis Two as early as possible in 2015 I'll keep it to myself for now, and certainly not let Leicester NHS know, ever.
It rained non-stop all day.
I have inadvertently got my iPad to randomly play all the tracks on it so I've had music constantly all afternoon. I wish I knew how. 

Confused ? You will be.

I admit, it is entirely my fault. I knew if I reprinted a certain verse from a certain track on the new Usuf Cat Stevens album people with hidden agenda's would jump on the depression bandwagon ( see yesterday's blog, last line ). A foolish prediction and one I would have willingly bet large sums of money on, so why the hell do it ? And why not ? I like what I like, however off-beat  (apologies for the lousy pun ).
The dodgy alarm worked and I was up bright and early for my trip to the dental appointment ( 24hrs early, but more of that later ). The temperature was minus-umpteen degrees as I walked to the bus stop and headed the queue, trying to maintain some sort of blood circulation. Eventually the bus arrived but the driver refused to accept my " Freedom Pass" and charged me an arbitrary £2.50. With a large, freezing queue still stuck in arctic conditions behind me I hadn't the heart to argue so paid the obnoxious driver his demands and would delay my queries until later. Bearing in mind I had used my pass on the same bus successfully yesterday but later in the day I assume the problem involves time, but I will find out.
I arrived at the dentist on time, but 24hrs early apparently ! The receptionist ( and I ) had a laugh as I had arrived for my previous appointment 24hrs late.
Bearing in mind my previous Leicester bus experience and being under no time pressure I opted to walk home. Needless to say my right hip objected and my walk became a painfull hobble, lasting well over an hour in continuing arctic conditions, during which time my phone rang every 5 minutes or so. Interrupting my hobbling painfull rythm and the freezing wind made frequent stops unadvisable so I assumed it was one of the aforementioned doom-mongers and opted to make contact from the warmth and comfort of home. Before getting in the front door I was inundated with concerned neighbours and friends, pleased and relieved to see I had not committed suicide returning from the dentist's. Once inside I noticed one of our garden chairs leaning against the fence. It transpired one of our neighbours ( herself recovering from cancer ) had opted to see if she could detect any signs of life via the rear windows or garden, further stirring Lynne into a lather, already on her way home from London, terminated by my phone call. She had forgotten my dental appointment and transport problems.
I have another appointment tomorrow but will ensure my bike is fully functional prior.

Monday 24 November 2014

Dodgy alarm

Our extremely vintage alarm clock appears to be breathing it's last,as I discovered last night whilst attempting to ensure I was up in time for me to attend my early morning dental appointment whilst allowing for inevitable bus glitches, heavy rain etc. The clock keeps good time but the alarm is inconsistent, unbelievably it worked, but I will heed the warnings and replace it ASAP.

Then there was one ( plus cat )

Lynne left for a week's work in London early this morning, having scraped ice off the car windows, the first frost of the winter. The extra wages will prove useful prior to Xmas, as will the "break" , following deep and meaningful discussions over recent days which re-evaluated " our positions and aspirations".
We are now singing from the same hymn sheet, hopefully.
I have some blood tests at the GP's this morning, mainly linked to diabetes, drug levels and liver functions. Fairly routine, I'm told. On Wednesday I have a dental appointment to tackle my right-hand crater and sharp edges but I have yet to plan how to undertake the journeys to and from the surgery. I need to study bus routes and timetables, something previously alien to me.  A dry day would be a bonus.
 Once the frost lifted I planted the alpines recently purchased. After lunch I retired for my now-compulsory snooze. Refreshed, I then experimented with buses to and from my dentist for my early appointment tomorrow before cooking and enjoying dinner.
Two buses are available but both go "round the houses", although the overall journey is short. My return journey was accompanied by a very young boy loudly ( and badly) reciting nursery rhymes . He and his equally noisy mother eventually got off the bus at my stop. Bliss.
The house is quiet and lonely, perfect for soul searching and self analysis.     By sheer coincidence I have also had time to analyse the latest Yusuf Cat Stevens release " Tell 'EM I'M GONE ". It is very Blues orientated, and very nice too. He has always raised issues in an obtuse and poetic fashion in his songs, but an interesting and haunting chorus on this album is actually written by Edgar Winter, as follows;
Why am a fighting to live if I'm just living to fight ?
Why am I trying to see when there ain't nothing in sight ?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try ?
Why am I dying to live if I'm just living to die ?

Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon and says the above appeals to me because I'm depressed, you'll need to listen to the track, which is high tempo, tongue in cheek and certainly not in any way morbid. But if the cap fits....................

Sunday 23 November 2014

Sunday, Sunday

It rained heavily all night and hasn't stopped yet, mid morning. I guess the flood plains will be........er.......flooded but I have yet to pluck up sufficient courage to check. This type of sustained weather re-enforces our original decision to avoid boat living all year round.
Arsenal managed to rescue a defeat from the jaws of a win yet again and now lounge halfway in the league, their traditional position when I first stated supporting them over40 years ago. Everything goes full circle and nothing remains static, I guess. 
Lynne returns to London tomorrow for a week in the wedding shop so I am fully stocked with ready meals for survival purposes.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Then there were two

Joel and Emily are returning to Manchester this morning whilst Mancester United are travelling to Arsenal for an eagerly anticipated Premier league match, the result of which is difficult to predict given both team's current poor form and close league positions.
After many weeks of trying and a long, intensive course at GCHQ my friend in Wales ( yes, I do have one ) has finally broken through my blog code with spooky results. He too has lost tooth fillings and awaits repairs. He is also doing some repainting in his house.  Snap !  Does anyone still play snap ?
Since finishing painting the garden fence it has not stopped raining, which is quietly self-gratifying.
I hope to get to our new-found local garden centre prior to Lynne's next working visit to London so I have an outside project in addition to the interior decorating, supposing it stops raining sometime.

Friday 21 November 2014

Sun/rain/sun/rain/darkness

A grey day generally but a couple of sunny bits to cheer us up. Today is Joel's 23rd birthday so off we went to the Red Lion for lunch and very nice it was too, complete with chocolate cake and candles. By the time we got home it was dark, dismal and pouring.
I have ordered a new tube for Chloe's bike which should arrive Wednesday, allowing it to be advertised on EBay once I master refitting the tyre and pumping it up.
Feeling good this morning but the rain and darkness strangely heralded a fuzzy-brained afternoon.       ( ? ).

Thursday 20 November 2014

Better late than never

Oops, arrived for my dental appointment on time, but a day late, if that makes any sense. She very kindly offered to do the filling on my left side anyway, whilst making another appointment for the bigger job on my right side next week, which means a trip on the bus for me as Lynne is in London, but it serves me right I suppose.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Back to hospital

Having avoided hospitals for some unusually long time, today I have a fairly routine ( ? ) diabetic appointment to fulfil, usually 6 monthly. " how are you ?"     "Fine".   "Any problems ?"     "No".   " Good, I'll see you in 6 months".
I may get myself weighed as my suit scales yesterday indicated I may have gained a pound or two.
When you get to my age the infrequent use of a suit is a good guide to weight. For a funeral in the summer my suit fitted me like a tent, but yesterday it needed a good coverage of WD40 to squeeze me in and constant breathing in to be comfortable. No doubt due to life on land and lots of rain restricting exercise? My son is a fitness coach so I"ll pester him for a programme and rely on Lynne to ensure I stick to it until the next wedding/funeral/christening. Roll on the cruising season.
At the hospital it transpired I have had diabetes longer than the doctor has been alive. I was confirmed as OK and the doctor learned a lot. My suit scales apparently worked well and the hospital scales further confirmed I have expanded a little.
Next appointment April 2015.

Monday 17 November 2014

Martin Leach

Martin Leach spent a large chunk of his long life looking after the KGSVBC rowing fleet, coxing the vets  8, coaching us old uns and organising events as necessary . His wife Stephanie arranged a memorial service on Kew Green and a wake at London Welsh Rugby Club today, for which we set out this morning at 0800 before a lorry broke down in an M1 section of roadworks,doubling our journey time and ensuring we were late for the service. In fact we headed straight for the rugby club rather than barging in half way through the service. Anyone who is anyone in rowing was there, a brilliant turnout and a great testament to a wonderful man.
It was a treat to meet all my old rowing colleagues, most of whom are still participating, much to my jealousy. I miss rowing and the comaradary  almost more than I miss gardening. 
Just to improve our mood a coach caught fire on the M1, delaying our journey home.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Folding bike repairs

With the help of our expert friend the two folding bikes are now useable and fit into one bag. We now have to decide where to store them on Tardis Two, no mean feat. A cold autumnal day, but dry for a change.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Sugar soap

We have decided to redecorate our kitchen, the only room not done when we moved in. As a consequence I am sugar soaping the walls and ceiling ready for a dosh of paint at some later date. Typically the weather today is dry and mild, having been wet for several days, preventing me finishing the fence painting . Sod's law.
A friend is due to call in to fix our four flat tyres on our "new" folding bikes,hopefully. We will both need to practice on them away from the canals, otherwise Tardis Two is likely to be orphaned at a very early age ! 

Friday 14 November 2014

Street canals

Raining yet again, giving the illusion of being in Wales. At this rate we will soon be able to bring Tardis Two home, although finding a 62ft parking space could prove difficult.
Lynne has opted to go shopping with a friend, leaving me to sugar soap the kitchen ready for repainting.
I managed to complete a large chunk of the kitchen, but it was bloody hard work and played havoc with my blood sugar, although my hip was no trouble at all.

Shopping injury

Woke yesterday with my right hip still aching, but a planned visit to the dentist prevented any master plan to resolve the issue. During the summer I had gradually lost chunks of 3 large fillings at the back of my mouth, two the result of root canal work and "temporary fillings", the other unknown. You know how it is when you suddenly discover crunchy bits in your shepherds pie resulting in "roughage". The dentist decided she needs to hire a cement mixer for my next appointment in a weeks time,so, apart from filing some tongue injuring jagged edges down nothing more was done.
I had the option of returning home or helping Lynne with food shopping at Sainsbury's. I chose the latter in the hope the gentle exercise would help my hip.  Wrong !  I opted for bed rest on our return home. Completing my blog proved impossible due to "technical problems" , now resolved.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Non cruising/ non painting day.

Continuous rain today, so nothing-pre-planned, although we ended up sorting out the loft ( again ) rediscoverings gems of family history we had considered long lost. Some inevitably ended in a wheelie bin, whist others will be distributed amongst the relevant children and/or living relatives. The gas man came, as pre-arranged, to change the ancient meter ( 20 years apparently ) which gave us something else on which to focus our attention. 
Late afternoon during a dry period I ventured out for a walk and checked-out the new building sites opposed by residents and myself, discovered a part- hidden nursery and limped home with a sore right hip, very slowly.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Cuprinol quest/Poppy Day

5 small fence panels left to paint and I am still attempting to find a suitable supplier of Cuprinol at a reasonable price within a practical bus or bike ride from home. After a few minutes  searching on Google I was about to order my requirements on-line when Lynne went out stating she would  "get my paint". 2.5 hours later she returned with it. I was tempted to ask if she had made it or it was only available at Homebase, Manchester, but resisted it. In the meantime I walked to the village for a newspaper, bottle of shampoo and deodorant, which seemed to have disappeared from the bathroom, before putting my work gear on and scrounging the remains of Cuprinol from the base of the last tin used and applying it to the top rail and base-board of the unpainted fence sections behind shrubs.
Whilst in scrounging mode I made myself a salad lunch of anything I could find in the fridge, by which time the paint and heavy rain arrived.
Today marks the end of World War 1 and the whole country fell silent for two minutes at 11.00 as a mark of respect and remembrance.
As far as I am aware I lost no one in either war. My father built Mosquito fighter/bombers and my mother made munitions, which ultimately affected her lungs and greatly reduced her lifespan. Poppy Day every year still means a lot to me so I am a great campaigner for fund-raising to look after our injured troops.  I have yet to visit the Belgian battle - fields, but it is one of my "must do" things before I die. 

Monday 10 November 2014

Gardening leave.

With our overnight guests on their way home to Wales we unusually find ourselves with a day to ourselves, so I have allocated myself "gardening leave".  By mid-afternoon I had removed a Leyland Cypress stump and replaced it with a Camellia ( flowers before we set sail ) and planted a "Burning bush" ( Cotinus coggygria ) which should provide colour for before we leave and when we return.
Job done.
Pleasant day, sunny and warm.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Birmingham by land

Having dropped the two girls off at the national exhibition centre for a crafting exhibition in Birmingham John drove me to the marina for his first glimpse of the boat. It looked very good in the sunshine. We checked the electric card and Sue next door confirmed it looked healthy. She very kindly made us cups of coffee and offered to keep my top-up card, "just in case", which made good sense. 
Lunch at the Waterfront and home in daylight.
Arsenal rescued a loss from a win, yet again, and now fall to 5th in the league. Ho hum.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Chester by land

Having fully recovered from yesterday's marathon from Colchester we are off to Chester today, stupidly you might say, but there are personal reasons for the decision which I don't intend revealing at this delicate stage. All will be revealed in due course. Poor Lynne has been forced to undertake far more driving duties than she could ever have envisaged, disliking " Top Gear" and Jeremy Clarkson as she does.
The 2 hour drive to Chester proved uneventful and we spent a pleasant couple of hours with our granddaughters , Sophia and Sienna before the return journey via our favourite Italian restaurant in Stone. The waiter remembered us from our summer visit whilst on Tardis Two, which was nice, as were the meals. On the way to Stone we were confronted by  a herd of cows charging down the road towards and past us. We stopped, breathed in and awaited some heavy contact, which failed to materialise, despite the lack of road width. A few seconds later an extremely large Hereford bull ambled towards and past us, with similarly no contact. Very scarey as there was no farmer in sight. We presumed the cows and bull had escaped from a nearby farm? Further down the same road we passed a blue telephone box, but not the Tardis. We wondered if we had overdosed on whacky tobacco, but knew that was nowhere near the truth, unfortunately. Perhaps senility?

Friday 7 November 2014

Boat or car for speed ?

With a sandwich for my lunch ( just in case ) we left Colchester midday in brilliant sunshine, only to get stuck in the mother of all traffic jams on the A14 for at least an hour. Having escaped we then made good time until another jam on the M1 for yet another hour. There was no obvious reason for either jam and traffic flowed freely before and after each one.  At a couple of points I considered our journey might have been quicker on Tardis Two, but overall it was no contest. At least we kept warm and dry
It was raining heavily when we eventually got home, so we put the central heating boiler, kettle and gas fire on before I popped to the village for fish and chips.  Full up with food and tea/coffee we spent the evening warmly flaked out in front of the TV, which prior to Colchester we considered to be quite large.  Our friends TV is of cinema proportions which makes ours look minuscule in comparison, but we'll get used to it again I suppose.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Garden centre hunt

A good night's sleep, clear head and early start to our search for a garden shrub. Garden centres these days have very little to do with selling plants and more with restaurants, Christmas decorations and garden statues. However, the huge one we visited also sells crafting stuff which immediately attracted Lynne. After being talked to death by the verbal crafting salesperson we quickly found the shrub we were looking for plus one we were not. We had lunch in the restaurant which boasted a quite bizaar menu, Lynne having a fish-finger toasted sandwich with chips !
The meals were large, tasty and very cheap.
I bought and downloaded the new Cat Stevens ( Usuf Islam ) album when we got back to our friends and blissfully listened to it for the rest of the afternoon. It is more blues orientated than his earlier stuff but excellent. I love it.
All in all a good day.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Colchester by land

Sunny morning and clear head, albeit after a restless night's sleep, my own fault for watching Arsenal commit European footballing suicide I suppose? 3 -nil up at half time against Anderlecht but then managing to draw 3-all.
3.5 hour drive to Colchester in mostly brilliant sunshine, uneventful apart from getting lost in torrential rain between Cambridge and Stanstead airport. Easily done.
Planned a trip to see "Sunny Afternoon"in the new year, the story of how The Kinks first started.      A theatrical success to date and soon to move to the west end of London, but a no-no for Lynne unfortunately.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Fog

After a very foggy beginning the day has become sunny, but far from tropical. A busy week scheduled including a few days in Colchester with friends and a day in Chester with grandchildren. Lynne is due to visit a craft fair in Birmingham too. Relaxing, eh?
The foggy weather cleared, but my foggy head didn't, despite my return to bed after breakfast.  Lynne produced bread and soup lunch but opted not to provide a lift to our nearest garden centre to look for a particular (but uncommon shrub she wants) which prompted me to pump to up my bike tyres as an alternative.  However, a quick practice in the garden convinced me a ride to the garden centre and return trip with a potted shrub was not advisable, but a return to bed certainly was.

Monday 3 November 2014

In depth discussions

The reason for missing our lunch arrangements with Chloe yesterday I can reveal was an in-depth discussion about my current health and better ways of dealing with it, which proved most revealing and very useful
 We said what was in our hearts rather than in our heads and talked about what we knew rather than what we imagined. Fact rather than fiction.
Lynne and I agreed my recovery has been slower, and less "complete," than either of us had expected or hoped for iat this stage. 
I have yet to come to terms with my fitness changes and lack of ability to concentrate for any length of time, my increased need for sleep, my loss of driving licence for health reasons and subsequent reliance on others for transport (lack of "convenience"), my frustrating lack of short-term memory etc. etc. etc.
But even so, I am in a happier frame of mind, particularly when on the boat, although I know I must get out of the habit of differentiating between the two lifestyles. It's a bit like comparing life in the Bahama's      ( holidays) with life in Leicestershire ( home ). Given the circumstances I suppose it is inevitable I prefer life on the boat but I do not wish it to diminish my love for home.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Folding bike repairs

It is lightly raining this morning , restricting any attempt to investigate  my flat tyres, which are painless. We are searching for  local bike repair shops. In daylight I managed to confirm the bay shrub had been correctly moved and watered-in.
Better late than never Lynne remembered we should be meeting Chloe in Coventry for lunch. Once again she was representing Surrey in a national inter-county ten pin bowling competition. By the time we arrived she and her team were wiping the floor with all opposition and were unbeaten, as they remained throughout the day, winning yet another trophy and title. For a very rare treat ( ? ) we had tea at Nando's accompanied by deafening Portuguese music. Whatever happened to romance ? 

Saturday 1 November 2014

Folding bikes

Lynne is fine today and our GP has given her some gunge to stuff into her dodgy ear, which seems to have improved the hearing situation a little. We have obtained a couple of secondhand lightweight folding bikes for the boat . They will prove usefull for shopping trips and journey's between locks next summer, if I ever get the damned tyres inflated.
I gave up with one front tyre in almost total darkness. Within seconds of being inflated it was flat again. I'll have to wait for daylight before investigating further, but managed to move Lynne's beloved Bay tree/shrub to her preferred position more by feel than sight. I think I watered it in but again I'll check in daylight.

Friday 31 October 2014

Tickety-boo

Here we are almost in November enjoying weather belonging to summer. It appears equally confusing for nature as breeding seasons arrive earlier and shrubs such as Magnolia are already in flower. However, the autumn/winter weather is forecast to arrive very shortly, catching everything by surprise, and we all like surprises don't we ?
I'm feeling tickety boo again but Lynne has returned to bed feeling distinctly under the summer-like weather for some unfathomed reason. Time will tell.

Thursday 30 October 2014

A step forwards again

Whilst the weather is grey and overcast today started much brighter for me. No fuddled head and a total lack of muscle twinges, despite 3 trips to the village. Haircut, making a doctors appointment ( not related to the aforementioned ailments) plus food for today. It could all have been done in one trip but the radiotherapy seems to have left what remains of my brain memory section as a colander.
On an even more positive note Lynne's few days working back at the wedding shop seems to have done her the world of good ( change of scenery/company and all that bumph? )Here's to the next time.
Spent the afternoon gardening and now have sufficient bags of rubbish for a trip to the dump. The only jobs left are to finish painting the fence and moving a Bay shrub/tree to a more appropriate place.
Thanks to a new Citroen car advert featuring Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane " White Rabbit" of 1965 vintage has been stuck in what remains of my brain all day, although I had to do some internet research this evening to remember the group's name and hit title.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

A step backwards?

Crawled out of bed feeling I hadn't slept and my hip/ thigh muscles had been knitted into a cardigan.
I know I slept and I don't wear cardigans, but maybe , just maybe, my recovery is progressing slower than I had hoped. If in doubt return to bed for a few hours. I feel fresher and more alive to the world now. In the meantime, whilst I slept Lynne has disappeared into the ether but I suspect she will materialise  sometime soon. Mobile phones form the last resort.
Lynne's mobile rings in the living room. I opt to stop the upstairs floorboards creaking on the landing , very successfully. Lynne appears from next door and it starts raining, wrecking any plans to paint the fence, although I still need to resolve the issue of getting materials as our village shop is closed this week but I'm not keen on transporting two tins of paint on a bus in my present state.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Homeward bound

Inspired by my favourite Simon and Garfunkel track we made tracks for Leicestershire today for a diabetic clinic  appointment. Arriving home at 2.00pm for what we thought was my 2.30pm appointment , things were a little rushed to say the least. Grabbing a sandwich for my en-route lunch we were already half way to the hospital when Lynne remembered to check the hospital letter and realised we were two weeks early ! A quick U turn and we were quickly home again. Lynne then remembered she had changed the appointment from today to avoid clashing with her London work schedule but had failed to change it on her iPad calendar. Oops. 
The "World's local Bank" has apparently redefined local and closed many branches, including the one in our village. Lynne wished to pay in her pay cheque but finding a functioning HSBC branch proved difficult and time consuming. So much for customer care and service ?
Job done, I retired to bed in the hope of clearing my head and easing my stiff joints, both issues having crept up on me overnight for some unexplained reason. A couple of hours sleep did the trick and I emerged refreshed,relaxed and ready to face the world again.
Arriving back brought home the long list of jobs outstanding. Tomorrow morning I will need to prioritise them and plan operations. The weather will dictate completion of fence painting ( once I obtain more paint ) , otherwise most tasks are internal. Querying the tax code allocated to me this year takes priority. 




Monday 27 October 2014

Reeling in.

My last day free was very warm and sunny enabling me to visit 2 old clients, who both gave me cups of tea and biscuits which they never did when I maintained their gardens for 8 years, strangely. The day passed very pleasantly and, once again, I did not get lost despite several bus changes.( lucky or what ?)

Still loose

Still on the loose and getting looser, I ended up in Hounslow yesterday, no mean feat, having walked to my old haunt, The North Star where I had lunch with Tom and Hayley before being joined by Chloe and some old friends. A quick lift to Tolworth and I was zooming over to Hounslow on the top deck,front seat, my preferred position.
I was a great Kinks fan, having seen them and/or Ray Davies several times in my earlier life, so I was pleased to hear Linda and Terry have agreed we should make the effort to see the new "Sunny Afternoon" musical in London until next January, based on the Kinks early years. For Lynne the Kinks are a definite no-no and I did not relish going on my own, plus fitting an ankle tag seemed a bit excessive."Last seen at...................."

Sunday 26 October 2014

Idiot on the loose

Another free day without restriction, other than where my bus pass is relevant. I half expect phone calls from Ricky Gervais or Steven Merchant with my next challenge (abseil down Tolworth Tower - An idiot abroad - series whatever).
 The Daily Mail has published the results of its Wildlife Phtography challenge. From a total of 10,000 entries guess what won the birds section ? Congratulations if you guessed "Bittern".  Obviously a golden opportunity missed. I have resolved to carry my trusty SLR on the back of the boat this year fully armed for action, because I reckon I could have won the birds section with ease, if only I had taken a photo of "my" Bittern in flight from above ( which I could ) and known there was a photography challenge in progress (which I didn't).  If only.  The story of my life.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Old man escape

I have been likened to a village idiot in recent times, so, left to my own devices this morning I escaped surveillance and toured much of SW London with the aid of my bus pass,taking in such exotica as Morden, Sutton, Surbiton and Kingston. Apart from two "check-up" phone calls all progressed well and I was home at Chloe's by late afternoon . Idiot or not, one good thing about the free bus pass is you cannot get lost. At worst you get chucked off at the end of the bus route, but you simply turn round and head back the way you came. But fortunately the little intelligence I retain allowed me to take a circular route, which included shopping in Morden and lunch in Sutton

Friday 24 October 2014

Old man watch

Chloe successfully completed the first morning's "old man watch", including a short incident free shopping trip to Epsom, and here I am writing my blog in mid afternoon to prove it. 
With a by-election due next week and a general election soon after, Conservative, Labour and Lib- Dem politicians are promising the earth. Some classic timing by the European Government has further livened the situation by levying an additional annual charge of £1.7 billion for UK membership, because our economy is "outperforming all others". UKIP must be laughing their socks off.
The better we do the more it costs us, it seems. The Germans have finally got their act together over European ruling. They have quietly taken over with no bloodshed or destruction, unlike their two earlier "bull in a china shop " failed attempts by force. However, even now they cannot resist the temptation of kicking us Brits in the face as they pass.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Anderlecht

Don't panic. We have not sailed to Belgium. The title reflects how I wasted my evening watching a Sunday morning pub match between Anderlecht and Arsenal, the result being 1 - 2, thanks to a couple of last-gasp goals by the Gunners. It was the worst Arsenal performance I have ever had the misfortune to watch but it keeps them in Europe for a little longer and prolongs the frustration. But Hey-Ho, it's only a game of football.
We're off to Chloe's again today as Lynne has been invited to cover for a staff shortfall at the wedding shop over the next few days, an opportunity too good to miss. 

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Rowing's big loss

Now at home where I have received sad news. The man who had a tremendous influence on my rowing career over umpteen years sadly succumbed to cancer, having battled with it for many years without complaint . Martin was the heart and soul of Kingston Grammar School Vets Rowing club and the best /most effective coach I have ever encountered. A massive loss to club rowing. I owe him so much.
By way of diversion I spent the morning altering the garden to Lynne's specification whilst she was out, only to find on her return I had misunderstood her wishes ( ! ), but no harm done. The wonder of nature is it's ability to recover from "severe"pruning. Fingers crossed.
From a personal point of view the last few days have proved what a better place I am in. The poppies at The Tower of London obviously were very moving and the news of Martin is devastating, but I have held everything together really well, I think, by considering the positives and dismissing the negatives.
The positives include knowing and being influenced by  Martin, plus none of my known family were directly involved in the two World War Europe bloodbaths.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Hurricane tale-end USA

Strange weather today, apparently the tale end of a hurricane blown over from the USA. High winds and occasional very heavy short showers. Back at Ashridge monument for the afternoon as a half way house prior to trundling up the M1 home
The Bridgewater monument has canal links with the Duke of Bridgewater, who paid for the first GB canal to be built, which we cruised this year.

Monday 20 October 2014

Dry land Reading

Sunny and warm during a very lazy day in Reading, courtesy of Marlene and Brian, in-laws par excellence. Brian is an excellent cook so staying here for too long can seriously stretch your waist-line.
We are moving-on to my sister's and my birthplace tomorrow, 

Sunday 19 October 2014

Party Poppies

Everyone survived the party in various states of sobriety  and all enjoyed it. Superheroes Fancy dress was the theme and most guests contributed, some quite spectacularly( see photo's )



Our carefully planned trip to view the ceramic poppy 1st WW memorial display at The Tower of London did not go to plan. The local trains were all cancelled and replaced by buses, due to "engineering works" which complicated and truncated our return trips. The way into London was via 2 buses and an underground train. The return was via 3 buses. But at least the sun shone and it was warm. Each poppy represents a lost allied soldier/airman/sailer during World War One. Each one has been purchased, profits supporting the British Legion and other charities helping returning physically and mentally wounded troops,something the Governments over the years have criminally ignored.
Photo's by Chloe.

Saturday 18 October 2014

A learning curve.

Still in London visiting friends and family. It is one of those occasions  when we learned more than we could perhaps have wished for, but can't put the clock back. More questions than answers, but that is life, which I always relate to one of those 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles with a single piece missing which pops up when you least expect it from a surprising source. However, I have learned completing the puzzle is the goal and cannot be rushed or shortened. Patience is a virtue, but frustrating.
Looked up one of my old gardening customers,who seems to be thriving without me, although neither of us is getting any younger.  I'll report on the party tomorrow, condition allowing.

Friday 17 October 2014

Gossip catch-up day

A catch-up with gossip day in London, visiting old friends, workmates and family. No big surprises emerged, thankfully. We managed one of our traditional "Noodal Express" meals out but not as enjoyable as usual. The staff have changed, as has the standard of cooking, which is a pity. Our dreams of a branch opening in Leicestershire have been delivered a serious blow.


Thursday 16 October 2014

Fast route to London poppies

Today we begin our trip to London by car for Tom's 30th birthday, Lynne's reunion with old friends and our planned visit to the Tower of London to view the giant ( in every sense of the word ) poppy fields as homage to the thousands of lost lives in the  World war 1.   I expect the visit to be even more poignant and moving than seeing the flower memorials after the death of Princess Diana. Tissues at the ready.
The effect it has on me will help measure my current mental state. Depression, what depression?
Don't forget to to contribute towards the Royal British Legion and/or Help the Heroes, both organisations doing a wonderful job of covering the criminal shortfalls of successive government's financial or practical support for the 888,248 lad's and lasses killed or injured  on our behalf.

Monday 13 October 2014

Highs/lows and other stuff

The summer high for me, without a shadow of doubt, was the spotting of a Bittern on the   Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, followed by the repeated sightings of brand new, shiny Airbus "Guppies" in the Chester area ( later attributed to their production nearby ).
We had an excellent meal at Sutton Hall, on the Macclesfield canal, and another at  La Dolce Vita        (Italian)  in Stone on the Trent and Mersey.  Sutton hall, in addition to a large menu, offers tons of history and lovely gardens, whilst the Italian has lovely food and service to die for.
Whilst on the subject of food my return weight is the same as on my departure, whilst my body shape has changed for the better with a lot of my old muscle returned. Lynne has lost weight too and changed body shape, again for the better. Healthy living and healthy food, eh?

The lows have to be the loss of Sadie, (who remains unaccounted for) and Lynne Phoebe and myself falling in. (But we can laugh about it now)

Friday 10 October 2014

Marina, home and review

RWe have an unusual view from our windows this morning
We are on a pontoon space very close to the marina workshops. The boat pictured is waiting to enter the workshops and is tied to a tree, but will move soon apparently. It has stopped raining too.
The day turned out to be great for cruising, warm and sunny. Typical of our luck. In fact it was so warm I had my hair cut ( which one? I hear you say ) and spent the afternoon de-weeding the garden. Both hair and garden look much tidier, even though I do say so myself. As expected the car failed to start this morning ( flat battery ) but jump leads, the workshop battery and fitters quickly rectified the problem, allowing us to get most of our clothing and parafinalia home, including Phoebe, who seems to take absolutely everything in her stride.
As a result of our travels during the summer, which covered canals new to us and others re-visited after many years, I have changed my canal recommendations as follows;
1) Macclesfield
2) Peak Forest
3) Llangollen
4) Bridgewater
5) Monmouthshire & Brecon
6)Shropshire Union
7) Coventry
9) Birmingham and Fazeley

The above are personal choices by myself and Lynne, but obviously everyone has their own preferences.
Canals best avoided ;
1) Worcester and Birmingham ( unless you are a lock/fitness fanatic and appreciate that teenagers will be teenagers.
2) Birmingham ( as above ).

Thursday 9 October 2014

Coventry, Fradley and thermals

Following yesterday's debacle I prepared myself fully for cruising In freezing rain, fully encased in the thermal suit (old man Steptoe style) thoughtfully bought as an Xmas present by Lynne. I can confirm it works brilliantly, although toilet trips are something of an adventure to say the least, but at least I can feel my extremities at all times.
Today is warmer and windier than yesterday, but unfortunately just as wet. Making the most of dry spells we cruised to Fradley Junction and beyond for lunch in very windy sunshine on the Trent & Mersey, having received an uninvited lesson on lock use from one of those "I know everything about everything" people you occasionally meet when you least want to. I play deaf and nod a lot, which seems to boost their ego's, if not their intelligence.
We have decided to address our electrical problems head-on and taken on board (sorry) lots of advice and contact numbers for the end of our trip.
Talking of the end of our trip we are back in the marina and it is raining heavily. We intend eating in the Waterfront pub and sleeping aboard tonight.
It was noticeable on the way back the lock paddles on the Trent and Mersey work so much better than those on prevous canals travelled this summer, so congratulations where it is due, Canal and River Trust. Next target Tardebigge flight? Not that we intend repeating that exercise anytime soon.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

CC Huddlesford .

Light rain greeted us this morning so we opted to cruise towards Fradley Junction and, ultimately, home. Drizzle and monsoon downpours alternated until we capitulated near Hopwas. Once we had stopped the rain did also but we delayed responding to it's beckoning initially as we required more substantial evidence of it's intentions.
Once convinced we set off again and, of course, it rained again. I opted to continue but had to stop when I began suffering with severe cold and poor balance, making my being on the stern unsafe. A routine blood test confirmed I was on the verge of a hypo, stuffed with chocolate and dispatched to the warmth of my bed while Lynne continued our journey.
I awoke somewhat confused, expecting breakfast, but in fact it was late afternoon and still lightly raining. We are moored near Huddlesford. Bad light prevented moving on so we have opted for an early start, weather permitting. I am fine now I know I am in present time. I'll sort out my thermals for the morning.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Coventry canal. Fazeley

Cold, wet and windy, but enough of my troubles. The weather is identical. During a dry break we slunk away from Bodymoor Heath, our home for two days, and cruised to Fazeley Junction where we joined the Coventry canal in pouring rain. Bizarrely we waited for the rain to ease before filling with water , disposing of rubbish and emptying the cassettes before the mother of all heavy showers arrived to fully test our wet weather gear. I can confirm It all works well, but Wellington boots are not ideal for gripping boat metalwork. The last pit stop this trip? We moved on to more salubrious moorings during the next cloud break.
An unusual footbridge on the Coventry canal.


Monday 6 October 2014

Bodymoor Heath to Fazeley

A boaters nightmare, we were greeted with heavy rain and winds this morning. The forecast says it will brighten-up later this morning so we will need to be patient. Has my early night replenished my batteries? It is too soon to say. Mentally I am tickety- boo, it was my physical condition needing replenishment, but I have had little opportunity to test it yet.
By mid-afternoon there was little improvement so we have opted to stay put. I returned to bed after breakfast and got up for lunch, it's a tough life this retirement. Those Tardebigge locks and subsequent Birmingham locks obviously took their toll. Yesterday we cleared another 8 locks and have another 3 to get through before a long cruising section, maybe tomorrow? The Birmingham & Fazeley appears to be entering a pleasant countryside location from here on, which will make a pleasant change from suburbia and industrial units over recent days.
Our old electrical problems have mysteriously returned, with insufficient power left in the batteries to trigger the central heating boiler into life in the mornings, however long we have cruised for during the day. Where possible we try to run the engine for half an hour before retiring to bed at night, which seems to overcome the problem but this is not always convenient if moored close to another boat. Hence our preference to moor alone in the middle of nowhere ( very anti-social but at least we wake with warm extremities ) The logical conclusion is to let MCC investigate under warranty, but as their electrical knowledge you could fit on a post-it note we have little confidence in their conclusion, if any.  Frustrating and annoying are under- statements.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Birmingham & Fazeley

Birmingham had the last laugh (or two) before we made our escape. Firstly it chucked it down with rain. So keen were we to leave that we dressed in our waterproof gear for the first time this trip, but as soon as we hit spaghetti junction, dripping wet and cold, we were bathed in warm sunshine. Secondly we collected a black refuge sack, a shoppers carrier bag and contents around our propeller. Almost as if Birmingham was sticking two fingers up at us.
We are moored on the change between suburbia and countryside on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, which has been an enjoyable experience so far, and only 3 locks, one of which I dragged 3 very worn car tyres from and a dead tree from another. A good Sunday lunch in the Dog and Doublet with two boaters met this morning, Pauline and Gary, which "lost" the afternoon with exchanged boating stories. Prior to lunch we had tackled 8 closely grouped locks, by which time I was physically drained. 
An early night is called for.

Friday 3 October 2014

Sleepless in Birmingham

I have always had an inbuilt dislike of Birmingham, even though my mother was a Brummie and proud of it.I loved and love her to bits, a lovelier lady would be impossible to find, but I still dislike Birmingham.  Against our will and the advice of many locals we are moored in the middle of Birmingham, having run out of daylight negotiating the umpteen locks taking us through the city centre.We avoided the yobbo and alcoholic sections, but are perilously close to the A38(M) which never sleeps.The city centre canal locks are all fitted with anti-vandal locks, which reinforces the image of lawlessness already achieved by vandalism and endless graffiti, badly spelt. Around midnight the inevitable happened. A group of teenage girls noisily released our moorings, but Lynne had heard them and we were able to re-engage with land fairly quickly. It seems the girl yobs in Birmingham do not carry knives as none of our ropes were cut, fortunately
We are now on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal heading for Fazeley Junction on our way home, and it's raining. A fitting end to our Birmingham stay.
We moored for breakfast once we completed the 11 Aston locks, but still in pouring rain. A local man told us we could celebrate escaping Birmingham once we caught sight of "spaghetti junction", the infamous aerial motorway knot. I found nothing of note for a photo but below is our bedroom window view this morning. The painting went on for hundreds of yards, which says it all.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Tardebigge

All told we tackled 38 individual locks in the  Tardebigge flight today, non-stop for 5 hours rising over 200 ft, only passing 3 boats on the way down. Arriving at the top lock in late afternoon and topping-up with water, we then traversed 2 tunnels of 580 and 613 yards respectively, emerging from the second into a charming woodland scene at Cobley Hill where we moored for the night, exhausted. As if 38 locks are not bad enough they virtually all featured the toughest paddles I have ever encountered. I feel a letter to the Canal and River Trust coming on.
Weather-wise today was warm but overcast, although the forecast is not so good.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Black Pig Dream

I have to admit, I'm having recurring lock syndrome. They never seem to end, one after the other after the other, not helped by our almost frantic search for diesel and gas finally involving a short detour and 3 extra locks on Droitwich Junction canal, only to discover the damn thing has been completed since our map and guides were printed, which had we have known, could have saved many miles cruising and more importantly, umpteen locks. Only recently completed It now joins the River Severn with the Worcester and Birmingham canal after the Dunhampstead tunnel. Another exhausting day ended at Stoke Works with an average meal in the Boat and Railway pub, after which we were speaking with a  broad Birmingham accent.
A new map and guides are being sought.
Have you ever had a dream where you wake to find there was some truth in it? I dreamt I was captain Pugwash on the Black Pig at the voyage start, steering the ship and making decisions, only to end up as Roger the cabin boy, making tea and coffee plus washing up and undertaking all the basic tasks. The only consolation is that Roger is far more intelligent than Pugwash and often saves the Black Pig from imminent danger and ensures the intended destination is reached.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Trent to Worcester/Birmingham canal and beyond

From our "posh" pontoon on the River Trent we ventured downstream in thick mist ( Hammer - horror style), lights ablaze ,through two giant,manned locks reaching Worcester around lunchtime in warm sunshine. We were impressed with the place, a sort of posher Stourport with less history. Our plan was to join the Worcester and Birmingham canal, heading towards home, despite horror stories of the 58 lock journey to Birmingham, none of  which has proven true to date, and we are already moored after the 12th lock.    

Monday 29 September 2014

Debdale lock to Stourport-on-Severn and beyond

?
Debdale lock is hewn out of solid sandstone and also is the site of a large cave with a door-shaped entrance, previously used to rest canal horses ?
The Staff and Worcs from here to Kidderminster is predominantly rocky with each lock having unusual by-passes.
Near Stourton Junction is Stewpony Lock ( ? ) I did not research the origin of the name but merely left it to your imagination.
At Cookley there is a solid rock 65 yard tunnel with terraced houses atop and then we moored for supplies from Sainsbury's in Kidderminster, a town boasting a pleasant mix of old and new warehouses, now home to several household name stores such as M & S, Next, Debenhams, Tesco etc. Having quietly admired the town design we then noticed the town centre locks were all fitted with ant-vandal locks or "water conservation keys", which says a lot. Luckily we had purchased one yesterday from a CRT volunteer.
Next stop Stourport on Severn where a series of  4 staircase locks led us to the River Severn , a seemingly endless expanse of water. It is fair to say the Stourport basins increased Lynne' tension levels but a very friendly and understanding CRT volunteer  was on- hand with excellent advice and expertise throughout our adventure.
For some unknown reason Lynne chose to ignore his advice to moor on a pontoon near the locks exit and we trundled past Stourport marina to Lincomb lock. Following advice from the lock keeper we headed for mooring next to the Hampstall Inn, site of the Hampstall ferry disaster in 1919, when nine people drowned as the ferry was swamped by the waves of a passing steamer.
Minutes after mooring we suffered a very heavy and prolonged shower, an unfitting end to a warm and sunny day.
Caves alongside River Trent allegedly used by bandits in the time of Oliver Cromwell.
I will publish this blog sometime tomorrow as we currently have no internet, TV or phone connections.


Saturday 27 September 2014

Compton to Bumble Hole and beyond.

From Compton we set off in pleasantly warm sunshine passing Whitwick Manor, now National Trust, and Pool Hall, Dimmington reservoirs and 5 locks quite nicely spaced until  the infamous Bratch locks, a set of 3 raising or lowering the canal 30.2 feet within a very short distance .
Whilst the procedure for operating the locks is well explained by notice boards on-site, a lock keeper is based there to help or advise if needed. No problem.
A few locks later Botterham staircase set looms (20 ft ) but with no lock keeper to help. Again no problem.
Bumble Hole lock failed to live up to it's name and sadly was instantly forgettable . 
All in all we completed 15 locks today and moored near Ashwood Marina to recuperate. 

Thursday 25 September 2014

Staff & Worcs plus Bittern

My viewing of an adult Bittern in Staffordshire warranted a call to the UK RSPB as the species was pronounced extinct here in the early 1900's. It is a member of the Heron family but chunkier and far more beautiful, with speckled plumage. The RSPB are hoping for another Red Kite success story of bringing a species back from extinction. Very exciting stuff. I'm sorry I do not have a Bittern photo, but if you google it there is a wide range of photo's there.
Tonight we are at Gailey on the Staffordshire ring, although where we go tomorrow is anybodies guess.
We're playing it by ear and attempting to stay cruising until the last possible moment. Gailey brings back pleasant memories as we regularly used to hire Viking Afloat boats from here when we were younger and fitter. Their boats were good, apart from the colour scheme, a hideous yellow and red. There was no hiding place with those. A few still remain.
The days are certainly getting colder but remain good for cruising, with shorts, tee shirts and sandals being a no-go now.
We made it to Compton for overnight mooring, still on the Staff & Worcs canal, which has considered itself to be a river up to this point. Very wide with gradual sweeping curves. Suitable mooring became rare today so we squeezed between a boat and Compton lock, bearing in mind locks are not used at night so will not disturb us.