Thursday 31 July 2014


After 14 locks  and sheer exhaustion yesterday we deliberately chose to have a quiet day today, consisting of 4 locks and some gentle cruising, ending mid-afternoon just outside Middlewich. The Trent and Mersey here is very wide, with a mixture of industry and farming scenery. We intend filling with diesel at Kings Lock chandlery, Middlewich in the morning although we still have half a tank remaining .  Today was cooler with sunshine and light showers.
I have been requested to confirm our kettle is merely mis-coloured rather than mis-shaped ,which I am happy to do.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Cat report and other razzle dazzle

Needless to say Phoebe and Sadie have settled back on the boat as if they had never been away, but their adventures ashore occur during the day and are closely monitored. The Staffordshire mouse population is now considerably reduced.  
I started the day in shirt, sweater, trackies and socks/trainers, reflecting the sudden change in the weather . However, by lunchtime I was back in shorts, tee shirt and sandals as the sun broke through the clouds, just in time for our passage through 14 locks ( yes, 14 ).
Eventually we moored in Wheelock for a fantastic, and thoroughly deserved, fish and chip supper at £3 each. 
I have enjoyed a couple of lucky days. Lynne managed to boil the kettle dry, changing it's shape and colour ( she forgot to put the whistle spout on ). Nothing was said but I thanked god it had not been my fault as life would not have been worth living. Anything for a quiet life and the kettle still works, albeit in different shades and a different shape. At least I have solved the problem of Lynne's birthday present this year. 
Similarly a dreadful fates awaited one of our boat plate set and our old windlass ( the one that broke my leg ),with the same result as far as I was concerned. ( table presents? ). I am not a religious person but this thanking god phase has been good to me so far.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Caldon TLC & Harecastle tunnel

We're back on the Trent and Mersey canal, heading for the Anderton lift and River Weaver. The caldon canal is very beautiful once you get past the new housing estates, but is far too bendy for any boat above 45 foot in length, seriously lacks mooring and the oddball Froghall tunnel constricts access to the end. However, a major renewal of the towpath, canal edges and serious dredging is underway, so improvements will happen.
From Etruria we made our way in ever deteriorating weather to the Harecastle tunnel ,  opened in1777 but subsequently riddled by subsidence. The "new" tunnel opened in 1827 at 1 and three quarter miles length and later had doors and ventilation fans fitted. It was lightly raining and warm when we entered but cool and dry when we exited three quarters of an hour later. The clang of the doors behind you and the fan roar is initially frightening .The temperature drops considerably, but we had learned from our first experience years ago by adding several layers of clothes.
We moored north of the Macclesfield canal. The canal water South of the tunnel is the usual "canal colour" but turns dull orange to the north ( iron ore seepage apparently ).

Sunday 27 July 2014

Caldon Lego-City. Trent & Mersey.

We moored near Park Lane Services prior to traversing Lego City in the reverse direction. The Caldon has a dearth of mooring on the beautiful end of the canal where you want to spend time and tons of mooring in Lego-City where you don't.
The Caldon has possibly the worst communications links anywhere on earth. It is as if Mobile phones, the Internet and TV had never been invented. Blogging and any outside contact was a no-no.
If your boat does not pass below the ribbons, forget even trying to fit through, although it is a pleasant walk "over the top"

Having accepted and got over the shocking existence  of Lego City on the way in, it had a much softer impact on the way out. Margaret and the locals confirmed the city replaced old and derelict warehouses that were beyond redemption. It also appears most of the flats are student accommodation and the larger properties social housing.
We got round all the tight bends and down the staircase locks without major incident before mooring back on the Trent & Mersey, somewhat relieved.

Caldon to Uttoxeter

Having moored very near the Leek/Caldon junction it only took minutes to continue our trip along the Caldon in the general direction of Uttoxeter, famous for horse racing, JCB's and Alton Towers. 
The Caldon canal opened in 1779 to carry iron ore and limestone for industry whilst providing an
additional water supply for the Trent and Mersey. We made it as far as Consall Forge and RSPB nature reserve, before further canal travel becomes restricted by the bore of Froghall tunnel. Here we chose to moor for the night ,next to the lime kilns, unused for over 75 years (see photo and please excuse my finger)
Today was hot and sweaty, particularly uncomfortable. How often can you say that in England?

Friday 25 July 2014

The Leek

A beautiful morning, as indicated by the photo's.

The Caldon canal Leek arm sneeks off the the right of the main canal and curves to the left, passing over the Caldon via an aqueduct on a very sharp bend, and not a Lego house in sight.
This is as I remember it many years ago and feel priveledged to have seen it before modern man deemed to ruin it for future generations. We are undertaking our canal tour not a moment too soon.

Thursday 24 July 2014

The Caldon canal

A very bendy canal, industrial at one end and countrified at the other, it originally carried limestone.
These days it's course seems to be inhabited by students, resulting in  many beer bottles and cans giving an appearance of neglect, sadly.
The other noticeable thing is one side of the canal is covered with wall to wall housing estates whilst the other remains woodland and moorland ,as it has always been. Spotted two kingfishers and umpteen herons, still as grumpy as ever.
The heat was tremendous, particularly winding and pushing locks (me) whilst Lynne literally roasted on the tiller. 
The above stands next to Caldon locks. It is a celebration of the potteries by all the big companies involved.
Eventually we escaped from Lego-housing incorporated and landed in real countryside for a pleasant change. The canal continues to twist and turn. I would not recommend taking a boat over45 feet down the Caldon and bow thrusters are a must. Luckily it was not busy on our visit. The canal eventually splits into the Caldon to Uttuxeter and the Leek arm to Leek. We chose the latter and moored near the aqueduct over the Calden.
A quieter/ shorter day and all the better for it.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Staircase lock, electric lift bridge, what next?

A few bits of excitement and a few disappointments across a very long day today. Stone was the first disappointment by not living up to past memories. A small brewery but nothing more to commend it. Stoke and Etruria also fell short. Stoke always strikes me as a place with lots of mis-spent history just waiting to be exploited. Lots of delapitated old warehouses screaming for a little sensitive updating to modern living accommodation like London docklands. A GB shortage of housing? You must be joking.
Similarly disappointing was Wedgewood estate. The old factory is being demolished and replaced by a huge housing estate. Plans are afoot to update the shop and the museum, but at the moment they are sad reflections of what they once were or will become. A museum visit will cost a whopping £10per  person. We could think of much better ways to spend £10 so returned to Tardis Two for continuation of our Trent and Mersey trip.
A sudden impulse caused us to take a sharp right onto the Caldon canal.  We had fond memories of it but we were again disappointed. The staircase locks were equally daunting and exciting, as was the electric lift road bridge. Finding a suitable mooring place proved lengthy and difficult,making today long, tiring and exhausting.
Bottle kilns at Etruria
Canal entrance to Stone.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Trent&Mersey to Great Haywood

Apologies for the late blog. We left Kings Bromley yesterday morning ( without a vole photo,but I did warn you they are shy ) and cruised near to Great Haywood where we moored before discovering there was no mobile phone or internet or TV signal. The day had been hot and sunny in the morning but the sun retired early, leaving just heat for the afternoon and evening. Today has been identical weather-wise. The Trent and Mersey changes character as it heads north and becomes quite beautiful, as opposed to dull and uninteresting when it starts in the South.
The best boat names competition has started again. Well ahead at the moment is a black number named"Darth Wader" and " Me and You and a dog named Poo".
All's well and life is progressing very well. Our GP phoned and has sorted out " the wrong pills situation" which would take too long to explain, believe me.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

A bright, sunny and warm morning so were up and ready to go early.Unfortunately Lynne had to retrieve essential forgotten cat items from home so left me checking oil and grease levels on the boat whilst she went. Having had to wait this long already we considered another hour or so would not cause major heartache and we owe it to the cats, who have settled-in as if they have never been away.
Minutes after leaving Lynne was back with a bleeding heel, sound familiar? Apparently the marina security gate caught her heel as she went through. Bearing in mind my experience I instructed her to visit A&E ASAP . Not sure she took my advice but I have to trust she will.

Lynne visited Burton hospital A&E ( something new ) where they cleaned, glued and bandaged the leg cut very efficiently apparently, congratulations to them. Lynne also received a tetanus jab, which is more than I received at Leicester, not that I'm complaining of course (unless I get tetanus later ).
We moored on the Trent and Mersey near Kings Bromley Wharf and Ravenshaw wood, very luckily near a water vole colony. I'll try to get a photo before we leave, but they are very shy so no guarantee.

Friday 18 July 2014

Leaving Barton marina.Trent & Mersey

Today started damp and miserable,hardly encouraging for commencement  of our next boating adventure. The car is packed, the boat similarly, and we are waiting for the arrival of our youngest son and new "girlfriend" for a flying visit from Manchester. ( Hence the rain? ). They are taking us out for Lunch at the Waterfront.   If the weather fails to change we'll stay in the marina and make an early ( but dry? ) start tomorrow. We are in no rush.

The weather did change.............for the worse!  Thunder,lightening and very,very heavy rain. We all got soaked transferring stuff from the car to the boat but had another splendid lunch at The Waterfront,which for all their hard work and getting wet we did not have the heart to accept payment from Joel and Emily. Joel we know all about but Emily is delightful and training to be a marine engineer.
We have booked our next service! 
We will relax in the marina until the weather improves, but it is typical of my luck we have been stuck at
Home during weeks of tropical heat, which changes to tropical rain as soon as we are free to cruise.
The old Monty Python song has returned to my head.
I'm still feeling good, despite the rain.

Happy pills hash-up

As usual with the relationship between our GP and chemist, another cock-up occurred as we attempt to get sufficient medical supplies for our proposed extended boat trip. The happy pills have been issued differently from "normal" at twice the strength but to be taken once a day, rather than twice. Lynne has arranged for my GP to ring on Monday morning so we can discuss the issue and rectify it, if necessary. Being away does not help, nor does a slight difference of opinion between Lynne and I. Lynne thinks I should remain on my "old" dose for a little longer, whilst I consider a reduction is justified and deletion a distinct possibility following a few more weeks on the boat. All for discussion Monday ?

Thursday 17 July 2014

Me confused? Not half as much as the Leicester consultant and his unfortunate student yesterday. It had been the first time I had seen him since I first started here so he had a lot of catching up to do. We did our best but by the time we left he was looking beyond confused, poor chap. I bet the phones were red hot. What the student made of it all beggars belief but I would assume his application for Dar Es Salaam hospital is already in the post. The physiologist, at a later appointment, was much more up to date and thus encouraging, although I will have to wait until my return from cruising to discover if I can finally dispense with these bloody happy pills. Something to look forward to I suppose. Roll on November 5th, and I don't mean the fireworks..........but then again. !!!!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Non-critical hospital visits. The last?

Another warm and sunny morning, hailing two fairly unimportant hospital appointments in Leicester, the first to review my anti-fit tablet regime ( I have been fit-less since last November ), the second to review my anti-depression pills ( needless to say my mood has lightened considerably as my overall health and broken leg improved to the point where neither pose a threat or a problem. It is amazing how the somewhat belated correct diagnosis of a broken leg helps in these situations.
Yesterday I completed polishing the boat and she looks like new. Today is our 26th wedding anniversary, of which we are tremendously proud.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Preparing for the off 2

Warm and sunny for us transferring our pre-packed worldly goods and food supplies from the house to the boat. Hopefully we have forgotten nothing,bearing in mind we aim to be aboard through July to October with considerable weather and temperature easy task, believe me.
As a result of my adventures in the park yesterday I have aching hips today, but serves me right. I'll survive. My weight is back to it's previous level although distributed differently.  It was previously muscle which will prove difficult to replicate, but I must learn to take it slowly. Overdoing things will not help, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Monday 14 July 2014

Preparing for the off

With our disappearance date fast approaching our plans were altered somewhat by a "Big Brother" text from our local garage reminding me our car is due a service and MOT in early August.
We had not forgotten, merely overlooked. A quick visit to the garage resolved the issue without hassle.
We agreed to book a service and MOT shortly after our return in late October/Early November. The short lapse in MOT is irrelevant as the car will be locked away on private land ( marina) and we can sort the car tax on-line. 
Warm sunny day which I made the best of by walking through Bradgate park. Long-time, no-see.
However,this proved a bridge too far and I needed Lynne to give me a lift for the last half mile or so.  Saw two green woodpeckers and a couple of black fallow deer bucks. It felt good to be " home".
Germany deservedly won the World Cup with the only goal of a great game. At least four of their team will be playing for Arsenal next season, plus Alexis Sanchez. It seems all our summers arrive together.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Problem,what problem?

Yesterday was a very ordinary day. It might sound strange but I had got so used to "relaxing" with a huge 20 tonne block of concrete hanging above my head ( cancer threat ) that without it relaxing is so much more complete and fulfilling.
It is lightly raining outside ( obviously ) but reasonably warm. Yesterday was dry and a good deal warmer,  excellent relaxing/cruising weather, if only I had no appointments mid-week, but who am I to wish my life away?
No big plans for today, but I am sure something will materialise .

Friday 11 July 2014

Oscar thanks (abridged version)

It is traditional for sports and Oscar winners to take off in an excruciating list of people they wish to thank for helping with their success. My success in surviving Leicester hospitals fits the same category but I'll attempt to keep it short.
Firstly, many,many years ago my mother instilled in me the resolve to overcome adversity and the necessity/benefits of sustained honest hard work. I learned to treat illnesses like diabetes as challenges that can be  lived with, whilst enjoying an outwardly normal life. A good foundation.
More recently I have come to appreciate friends and relatives for their unquestioned loyalty and support.  My wife Lynne tops the list by a considerable distance , followed by and in no particular order, my sister and brother in law Margaret and Bob, my children and their partners/children,     friends ( in particular Steve ) and finally individuals of the NHS at Nottingham, Leicester, St. George's and Stanmore hospitals, The Nook medical practice  and many, many more my memory has difficulty recalling. Thanks.
The high blood sugar issue appears to have been resolved, thanks to my brilliant diabetic nurse, Lisa Walker, and a considerable dose of common sense, detective work and deduction.In short we deleted and replaced the insulin batch numbers which we concluded could be under-performing, changed my injection site and things are back to normal ( whatever that is ).
I've completed painting the fence, or as much of it I can get at, pending shrub pruning, and very smart it looks too.

Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life

Well, here I am after a peaceful night's sleep and making the most of this second life.  Now, where did I go wrong in the first?  Always learn by your mistakes ,although my previous ones related to a totally different lifestyle. My mood is brighter, but the weather is not. One my appointments next week has been cancelled so we can set sale one day earlier. Can't wait.
Whilst I've been given a clean bill of health yesterday, it is typical of my luck that my diabetes decided to play-up today. For some unexplained reason I awoke with very high blood sugar, which continued  throughout the day, despite my best efforts, which included swopping insulin from one manufacturer's
Batch to another and increasing insulin doseage, under guidance from my expert diabetic nurse. Always talk to an expert before considering altering your diabetic regime. My blood sugar levels have gradually reduced, but I am monitoring them far more frequently and hope things get back to normal, although the reason for the blip remains a mystery. Stress?

Thursday 10 July 2014

11 Months of hell ends

A very early start to a very long and eventful day. A perfect red sunset ended a near-perfect long day.
Between we arrived early for my appointment after battling past a frightening vehicle fire on the M25, plus the Royal Marsden car park being full and closed. A kindly attendant allowed us in and allocated an "illegal" space for us. It was then we discovered my clinic was running 2 hours late. Yet another especially large blood test filled some of our waiting time ( another empty arm ). 
Eventually my consultant appeared to announce the blood tests and scans showed there is no link to cancer in my body ( with the exception of my brain tumour, of course ) and I could therefore get on with my life. My ordeal has stolen over 11 months of my life, but I am determined not to let this NHS farce spoil the remainder.
We have a funeral to attend on 17th July, our 26th wedding anniversary on 16th and some local unimportant GP/hospital appointments on the 18th , after which we we fully intend using the boat continuously for the next 3 months at least. 
 To say I am ecstatic would be an understatement. 

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Always look on the bright side of life

The blog title reflects Monty Python's come-back show appearing in London . Everyone and his dog's advice has always been to look on the bright side, something I keep trying to do, with more success of late, post-chemo/radiopherapy and leg operation. This latest hiccup has tested my resolve almost to the limit, I have to admit, but my life goes on without too much of a downer, which is a big step 
In the right direction I guess? 
A warm, sunny day today so I completed another couple of fence panels and re-tied the three clematis. All good stuff.
We plan to set off for Sutton at a leisurely time tomorrow and should get back mid-evening, all being well.

Monday 7 July 2014

Big day looming?

A misty morning which fast became warm and sunny. The dawn chorus was by Canada geese this morning, less melodic but more emphatic than our familiar fare. We suspected it would happen as the canal bank is covered with goose do-do's, but we felt the fabulous view was worth it, a pleasant exception for the Trent and Mersey canal. 
Back to the marina for lunch,just as threatening rain clouds arrived, but no plans for polishing the second side of the boat were literally washed away by the heaviest thunderstorm I have ever seen.
Back to the Royal Marsden on Thursday when I get the professional verdict on my biopsy results, a very, very big day for me and Lynne, but not the type you look forward to.

Four in a bed

Today is another goose-bump/heat-bump day. Sweater on, sweater off, sweater on again and so on.
We turned round at the Dragon, having done the required oblution tasks and stopped for lunch at Shobnall marina cafe ( sausage bap followed by ice cream). We have moored for the night after Branston lock and near Branston water park. Very scenic, particularly after the relative blandness of the Burton on Trent breweries.
Last night was lively, to say the least. I woke at 2.00 am sharing my bed with one bulky male and one rather lovely young female paramedic, in addition with Lynne. Catheters abounded, as did blood stains on the bed sheets and mattress plus a drip bag . As I gradually returned to conscience-ness I realised I had come out the other side of a big diabetic hypo. Lynne had realised much earlier the depth of the hypo (I am unco-operative and hyper-active) and had dialled 999. Using GPS the paramedics arrived very quickly, parking the ambulance in the Dragon car park. They were as professional as ever and were on board only half an hour. I helped Lynne strip the bed sheets for washing and de-blood the mattress prior to retiring once again, this time on the bed-settee. Needless to say we had a lay-in this morning. Lynne apologised to the Dragon manager, who's car was apparently blocked in by the ambulance. And then we left for  Barton marina. !

Saturday 5 July 2014

The dragon

The dawn chorus alarm worked a treat as usual. A dry start to the day. We are keen to make Willington ASAP as The Dragon is always busy for Sunday lunch and mooring spaces are at a premium. 
In the event there was a space beside the dragon, fulfilling our long-held ambition  of someday mooring there. Sad, eh?
The meal was good, as was the beer/wine. The pub has changed physically since our last visit. An old attached cottage has been sympathetically altered to form extra dining space.
Later Lynne slept while I watched the British Grand Prix and an epic Wimbledon men's final. The former won by Lewis Hamilton, the latter by Novak Djokovic.  
The day had been sunny with a cool breeze and a thunderstorm arrived early evening. We have decided to stay here overnight and decide where to go in the morning.

Rain & shine

Typically British weather. It rained all night but is fairly bright this morning. 
At this moment in time I am unsure of my medical situation, having been extremely confident previously.  At that time all my treatment had been completed and the results were excellent. The tumour had shrunk and I was having no fits or dizzy spells, plus overall I was feeling good. The leg was brilliant and I had even been able to run and dance. Not bad, eh?   
All brilliant news and very uplifting mentally.
Then the biopsy results belatedly arrived and were confusing, not only to me but also medical experts, taking me back to square one,  if not worse. Now they are scouring my body for cancer cells, with particular emphasis on lungs and other major organs. Results of this scouring due Thursday.
The only major plus point is I am able to cope with it all because I'm in a much better place mentally, which I am pleased about. Mind over matter and all that bumph. I have to say it works, much to my surprise.
I badly miscalculated the narrowboat journey time to Willington, our intended overnight mooring spot. Our relaxed ( late ) starting time also didn't help, but in the event we moored outside Marston's brewery, although we chose to stay on the  cut. It was all by pure chance, honest.
We have booked tomorrow's lunch in The Green Dragon pub,Willington, where we have a loyalty card earned while Tardis Two was being built nearby.

Friday 4 July 2014

Land & canal

I spent the sunny morning progressing painting the garden fence and the rainy afternoon on the boat.
The fence painting I find very tiring, particularly for my lower back, but it all adds to my fitness in the long run. We aim to have a relaxing weekend on the boat, either in the marina or on the cut.

Thursday 3 July 2014


Warm and sunny. I'm busy painting our garden fence, having stocked-up with paint. The sheds and bottom fence are finished, with two coats of paint, and look really good. 
Completed painting the back gate and several fence panels, leaving 3 to do. Boring stuff, really. We're planning to escape for the weekend.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

The midlands are warmer

Carrying on my old " the weather is milder north of Watford gap" argument, it was today, although without an external thermometer on the car it is difficult to prove. I spent the afternoon topless painting the second shed and boy was it hot. Very pleasant indeed. Due to the shortage of days between hospital visits we have opted to complete outstanding jobs at home rather than take another short boat trip. If we get the expected all-clear from the recent exhaustive hospital tests we'll celebrate with a longer boat trip later next week ( but we have said that before, remember? ). Failing that we should get a long break from late July to late autumn. But that is enough of counting my chickens.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

More nervier times

Bone marrow day today. Scans I know all about but I have limited bone marrow test knowledge, other than hear-say. I am expecting something painfull so anything better should be a bonus. My test should be finished by lunchtime, then Lynne goes to the hairdressers  then we're off home again, assuming I will be fit enough to travel. Apart from all the gorey hospital details this trip has been a good one, catching up with family and old friends, plus visiting our favourite noodle bar. We used to visit it at least weekly when we lived down here,far less frequently now, but none the less enjoyable.
In the event, the procedure was painless, no doubt helped by local anaesthetic and gas and air, as used in childbirth.  I'm writing this in the evening after a totally painless afternoon.
Even so we have decided to return home in the morning. It has been a long and stressful day so a trip home in daylight seems a good option.