Wednesday, November 24, 2010

running repair

This week we have done …  Gailey to Penkridge, turn around, back to Gailey and currently at Cross Green.

Oh boy - its getting colder outside and forecast to get worser for the weekend and into beginning  of next week!   Gotta get the thermals out.    Not inside though - plenty warm enough in here.   The fire is kept in all the while now and during the day we burn a mixture of wood and house coal, then to keep it in overnight have to pile it up with smokeless coal.   Wood is free, picked up as we travel about --- Dai always manages to find some lying on the towpath or thereabouts; house coal not too bad at around £6 for 20 kg (and it seems to last ages) although it smokes like crazy when a new lot goes on; and …. Of course …. Smokeless has now increased to winter prices so last lot we bought was about £12 a bag.

Had to replace the water pump this week so gone for a different brand - Jabasco which seems to be the one most recommended as we have asked around.   I was dreading it as most technical jobs on the boat seem to get Dai cussing …. But no, it went like a dream !    And yes, the water pump is working too - so, a result and hoping this pump lasts longer than the other one which we only had new last March because the one installed when we first had the boat had broken.  

Penkridge is quite a nice village - a great butcher and baker; quite a big Co-op; woolshop; couple of banks; and a outdoor/indoor market on Weds and again on Saturday.    Usual array of clothing, footwear, stuff like black bags, dodgy wash powder, unheard of cosmetics.    Couple of fruit/veg stalls; cheese; bacon; big van with chappie shouting such as “10lbs mince for only £1”, etc. etc.     I did buy some (supposedly) thermal socks in anticipation of the freeze this week and a box of Christmas cards for a pound!  

Nothing at Gailey except a Viking hireboat base (now closed for winter) and then just down the dual carriageway a garage; huge pub, 2 garden centres and a funny little shop selling bags of potatoes, carrots, onions, coal and logs - but they also had milk thank goodness!     One garden centre more a plant nursery and the other one, one of these huge places which, ok, sell a few plants, but a huge selection of expensive kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, outdoor clothing, wellies, pet foods/gear, etc etc.    you know the sort of place.    Loads of Christmas decs, trees, lights - but we did miss Santa as he isn’t arriving until next weekend !    I did get rather a nice little plant arrangement as the basil  we have had since the summer finally gave up the ghost!    It had served us well, especially as it was only £1.50 from Morrisons.    I missed having a bit of living greenery so hopefully this will last a few months.

Since last blog we have done …  11 miles and 12 locks
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 876 miles and  848 locks

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anyone for a Baked Potato?

Lunch!   2 hours in the ashpan is all it takes.

This week we have done …  to end of  Shroppie at Autherley Junction and turned left onto Staffs and Worcs canal going north to Cross Green and currently at Gailey.

Jack Frost starting to visit us now but not lasting long as we have had some gloriously sunny day times (except for today - we woke up to rain and it’s not stopped all day).   I even sat outside on a tree stump yesterday reading my book for an hour or so, until the sun sank behind some trees.  

I caught the bus into Wolverhampton while we were at Brewood - only a 25 minute ride.    Dai stayed at home as he used to live in Wolverhampton and didn’t wish to rediscover these “bright lights“.    Actually the town centre is like a million others with same stores in a massive indoor shopping centre.   I enjoyed poddling around and at least without Dai, I could window shop and wander at leisure.    Bought a replacement telephoto lens (don’t know how or why the original just stopped working).     Also some long hiking socks as I realised I only had short “summer” socks that I couldn’t tuck my jeans into when on the often now muddy towpaths!   Socks are easier to wash/dry than jeans any day.    Must admit though, one day in a busy city is enough to last me some weeks ….. I was very happy to get back to the towpath!

Been thinking about how we’re going to decorate the boat for Christmas and while in Wolverhampton picked up a few bits-and-bods including some different coloured LED lights - obviously I’ll post pictures when we’re all Christmassy!!     Going to also look out for some holly and fir cones to make a Christmas wreath we can fix to front outside somehow.

rather suspect this Christmas Tree been there for a number of years
Since last blog we have done …  13 miles and 1 lock
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 865 miles and  836 locks

Glad we went under it (2x in one day) instead of on it !

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Desperate Dan Pie Mark II

This week we have done …  still on the Shroppie :  Norbury Junction to Gnosall to Wheaton Aston to Brewood.

Quiet week after all the excitement of last week …..

It was my birthday last Thursday (but kindof felt like I had celebrated it on the Saturday before when we had our Very Important Visitors.    We were still moored at Norbury Junction and so went to the Junction Inn for a meal.    It was really delicious --- okay so pub food but there was a big choice.   We were going to have starters until we saw size of main course going to the next table!    I had the Junction Steak Pie which was way way too big - bigger than the Desperate Dan Pie we had earlier in the year.    I did eat all the meat though which was chunky without any fat or gristle but had to give up on all the pastry.   Dai had their special of Thai Green Curry which he really enjoyed.    By the time we felt ready for pudding it was too late, the kitchen was closed !    Beer was excellent and, all in all, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this pub.

Made the Christmas Cake this week which is now maturing ready in the back food cupboard to be fed at regular intervals with a touch of the brandy.

Had a really excellent beef joint from the butcher in Gnosall - in fact, I would go as far as to say it was the best beef we have had in the last 7 months.     We always have a full Sunday roast dinner and more often than not there is meat left for at least one more day and often two days.

Foxxie has had a good time this week with all the squirrels …… now that the trees are getting bare, they are much more spottable!    She sits with eyes glued upwards, every now and again making this strange strangled type of bark.    No way can she catch one of course but its fun watching her try.    We only have to say squirrel now and she’s off !!

Since last blog we have done …  11 miles and 1 lock
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 852 miles and  835 locks   (made mistake last week and told you totals for week before!!)
cutting a route through the autumn leaves

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Most Excellent Day

(late again as no reception Wed and Thurs - this is a notorious stretch for no reception for phones or internet but think we are out of it now.)

This week we have done …  still on the Shroppie :  Adderley to Market Drayton to Goldstone Wharf to Norbury Junction.

who's that peeping ? It's Millie Mop
Fantastic day last Saturday when Amy and her boyfriend Hayan plus my brother Shaunie with Mand, Sam and Millie came to see us.   We were moored at Market Drayton so winded and took a leisurely cruise back to Adderley Locks and returned to Market Drayton.     Sausage cobs / my homemade cake and mince pies / beer and red wine …. And then a meal at the pub in the evening.    The weather was wonderful - sunny and warm.     It was just great to see them all - it’s the one thing I really do miss, not being able to see my family often and whenever.    

the bestest nephew and niece in the world - Sam and Millie

Amy had been to a Halloween party the night before and didn’t get home till just before Hayan picked her up for the journey to see us - her hair was even more pink and wild than ever !!    At least she had taken out the white contact lenses so didn’t scare Sam and Millie too much - ha ha !!

doesn't she look like her mother - err, no !!!!

Must admit I got a little tearful after they had gone …. But not too long before Christmas when we will be meeting up again somehow, somewhere !!

Freerange eggs at Adderley Top Lock --- some hens are even roaming around the lock - and they are the best eggs we have had since the duck eggs on the Oxford Canal last spring.    Huge and so yellow yoked.   We ended up with 3 trays ----- 90 eggs.      Well, unfortunately Dai fell down the boat steps with first tray so we lost about 20, then I baked some quiche and egg custard and then lots of cake ready for my family visiting.    Then we have scrambled eggs every morning Mon to Fri  (Sat and Sun being egg and bacon days as our weekend treat).    Still got some left but won’t last much longer!!!

On our trip from Market Drayton to Goldstone Wharf last Tuesday guess what?    We saw 3, yes 3, kingfishers.    Sightings this year have been very low, so 3 in  3 hours was just amazing.

Loads and loads of leaves on the canal now which is not good news when you’re cruising as they get caught round the prop in like a kindof wad and slow us down …. And we go slow enough anyway.

Since last blog we have done …  3 miles and 18 locks
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 822 miles and  829 locks
my pink with shades of purple haired Amy with Hayan

my fab sister - Mand 

new crew on lookout duty - brother Shaunie

Sam taking lessons !