Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The North Wind Doth Blow (well, it did last week)

…. But PLEASE don’t let us have snow!    Actually, I don’t mind snow, it’s the ice that is awful when you’re living on a narrow boat.   The ice that traps you like it did us this time last week from 27 Nov for 7 weeks!    Not looking much like that though yet this year as I even managed to dry washing outside today in the glorious sunshine!     Had a lot of wind this last week though especially during Thursday night when there were 20 foot waves gusting down the canal !!   

Met up with our friends Fred and Lisa on Saturday when they started their 2 week narrow boat holiday from Norbury.   We went for a meal Sat night at the Norbury junction where it was Sizzling Saturday, so we all sizzled and jolly good it was too!    Sunday morning we both cruised south to Wheaton Aston where we had a few pints on arrival.    Then Dai cooked dinner - roast pork and all the usual accompliments, followed by my fruitie sponge all washed down with wine of course.    Great evening with good company.

Monday morning Fred and Lisa went off towards Birmingham and we’ll spend the new week around here ready to meet up with them on their return to Norbury for - no doubt - a few pints, meals and fun.

Last day of Nov today so December tomorrow folks!   Saw our first Christmas tree a few days ago and just spotted another on front of a boat moored just opposite us --- oh dear!

Since last blog we have done … 20 miles and  2 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1512 miles and  1208 locks

that time of year again - wood gathering,
chopping and splitting

nice pile ready for stacking on roof

first Christmas Tree spotted

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And more books

Visited our fave secondhand bookshop this week at Coven about 5 minutes walk from the canal and got re-stocked!!   What we tend to do is buy books at charity shops, read them and then either return them to another charity shop or leave/swap them at the various “book swaps” in a lot of services on the canals …. Or we exchange with another boat.    But this particular bookshop always has a lot of the sort we like.     We also have our “cannot bear to be parted from” books from previous lives and then I also have an e-book reader so we always have something to read.    Dai gets through them much quicker than me cos he reads a lot more where I also do my craftie things when we are inside the boat which, of course, is now getting more and more with the shorter days.

While we were at Coven we also had a coal delivery from Viv off Monarch and Grimsby who were moored just above Great Haywood but they kindly bought us 10 bags by road which was great as we were down to 2 bags and nowhere to pick up any (of that we prefer) until Wheaton Aston.    At our rate of knots that was about a week away and its definitely getting colder now so the fire is in 24/7 and although we burn wood during the day, we do need to stoke the fire up with coal for overnight.

So we are now on the Shropshire Union going north and today are moored at Brewood.   Went a six-mile walk this morning by towpath up to Wheaton Aston to buy eggs from Bridge Farm there but they didn’t have any!    All those weeks we were iced in at Wheaton Aston last winter (which, incidentally, started on Nov 27 last year!!) we could always get eggs from them.    You can see the hens running around the field so they are truly free-range.    Never mind, got some obviously from the shops in Brewood to tide up over and maybe the farm will be stocked again over next couple of days as we are heading that way.

Since last blog we have done … 7 miles and  1 lock
Total since Setting Off ….. 1492 miles and  1206 locks  

going through the narrows between the M54 motorway bridge
and Autherly Junction on the Worcs and Staffs Canal

Nice perch Mrs Heron -
we then saw 5 herons sitting in a field between
bridges 4 and 5 on the Shroppie and today
I saw 2 herons flying together along the canal
which is something I haven't seen before

View from Jandai at our mooring on Nov 20 between
bridges 7 and 8 on the Shroppie

same place on Nov 20 looking southwards

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wasps and Flies !

 Unbelievable!     How come we are still killing wasps and flies in the boat in the middle of November!

Yuck - don’t like it.     Obviously it’s the unseasonable warmth this last week - however, gone cold today.  Must have done as Dai wore his new - hand knitted by me! - Aran jumpie today while pointing Jandai up the canal from Gailey to Coven.  Can’t quite believe it took me only about a month to knit so now started on one for me.
Dai posing in his new handknitted jumpie
whilst stuffing his face with a homemade mince pie.
 I am turning into a Domestic Goddess!

Dai has a new axe - purchased from Penkridge Market - as he broke the handle off the old one by doing his Mad Axe Man thing! 

There are still loads of leaves on the trees - although you wouldn’t think it by the amount of “leaf balls” we are picking up on the prop.

Amy is settling down well in Thailand and seems to be really enjoying her new life as a teacher.    Today she wrote on Face book : “Had one class so far today, and have sent FOUR naughty boys outside already... Sucks for them, because they missed out on the Robot Song and dancing! HA. I hate naughty boys. I also frightened the whole class, by getting my scary/deadly voice out and telling them to "Sit. Down. ...... NOW." Haha it was funny, though they were scared to talk to me afterwards, oops!   I didn’t shout - did the stern voice thing and it worked!

Since last blog we have done … 13 miles and  11 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1485 miles and  1205 locks  
See the blue sky!
Washing drying outside on Nov 13

This is the adapted BrolleyMate holder
I use for my washing now.
I tried it as it comes but the wet washing is just
too heavy as the contraption swishled round and
I ended up with half the washing in the canal!
So Dai drilled a hole on the bottom bar so I can
put a tiller pin through the whole lot to secure it.
Works a treat now with the whirleygig on
(although I can only just reach on my tippy-toes
 to hang the washing!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bonfires, Beetroot and Bacon Butties

My birthday celebrations last Friday - however, the day didn’t quite go as planned!!   We have 3 dates a year when we go out for a meal for sure and have exactly what we want no matter the cost ---- our wedding anniversary, Dai’s birthday and my birthday --- and can usually find somewhere a bit more special than your average boozer!    So, we were moored at Great Haywood but only the local boozer there, so off we went  but ---- could only just get through the door, the place was heaving and definitely no tables to have a meal.   So, off we went to the other local just up the road, but this was dead as a dodo and no food.   We had a couple of pints, then decided to call in the local Spar shop for fish fingers and cackie white sliced bread to have one of our flavourite meals - fish finger sarnies.     Alas, Spar shop had shut 15 minutes before.   What to do?    Back to the boat for a feast of bacon butties - that’s what!!

I did have to bake my own birthday cake but you can’t have a birthday can you without a cake!!    Fav pressie was a jar of picked beetroot from Martine and Philippa of Cool Canals which was extra special as we knew beetroot sarnies is there staple lunchtime snack and reckon this must have been one of their last stock jars!!

We happened to be moored at Great Haywood opposite the shugborough Estate on Bonfire Night so were treated to a massive bonfire and super firework display standing on the back of Jandai.    Shugborough House is now closed for the winter season but is a great National Trust property to visit - we thoroughly enjoyed our visit there a couple of years ago.
Bonfire burning brightly

Just smoldering the next day

Martine and Philippa joined us for dinner the other night so Dai had to put his hand to veggie cooking again - he did manage a splendid meal though which we followed by a blackberry jam (homemade of course) steamed pudding which I baked in the steamer on top of the fire.    We had a really good night, full of good conversation with lots of laughs.

First frost of this autumn/winter on Sunday night so we kept the fire in overnight but since then it has warmed up again so not lighting the fire until after lunch even though the last couple of days have been dank, misty and mizzy --- we did see the sun for a couple of minutes today as we were travelling though!
Sunset over Shughborough

Moored by Shughborough Estate at Great Haywood

Dai had a blast from his past - or rather his mad, bad past (as told to me via email later) on Sunday as he was walking Foxxie up the towpath.  Someone recognised his voice even though they hadn't seen him for about 30-odd years!!!   It was Jim and his wife Lyn who were out for a trip on their narrowboat.   Fortunately for Dai they had to move on quickly so I didn't get chance to find out more about this infamous past!!    

Right now we are moored between bridges 99 and 98  near Stafford on the Birmingham/Worcs Canal and plan to be in Penkridge for the weekend.

Since last blog we have done … 12 miles and  3 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1472 miles and  1194 locks  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One to eat, one to freak

Mushrooms for breakfast we foraged for among the cow pats - delicious - and artistically (well, see what you think on pic below!!) carved pumpkin to scare away the spooks on Halloween night !!

Left Branston Lake last Thursday morning to spend a few days in Alrewas.    Naturally got some meat from the local butcher there - always on the cards when you’re in Alrewas.    Then on to Fradley Junction where, to our surprise, there were quite a few mooring spaces!  We walked up to Fradley Village for first time even though we’ve stayed there many times.     Could only find a post office in the village so we went off to the Coventry Canal to complete a circular walk.    Then just up from Bridge 90 we came across a new parade of shops on the edge of quite a posh new housing estate and a warehousing type of area.    Quite reminded me of what you often see in the USA.     There was a Co-op, cafĂ©, keep fit place and a chippie which, naturally, we had to sample ---- twas good!

Today we are moored between Armitage and Rugeley.

While we were staying a while at Trent Lock Aug/Sept/Oct,  John and Mick of Kingfisher Narrowboats were working on a shell for a new customer which was completed round about the same time as we left there.    Lo and behold, this boat was moored up behind us at Fradley so we met their owners - Martine and Philippa of Cool Canals fame.    Had a great drinking session with them at the Mucky Duck (aka The White Swan)  and no doubt will have another when we bump into them again!

Hasn’t the weather been brilliant this last week - warm sunny days at beginning of November --- long may it last (well, I can dream).

Since last blog we have done … 12 miles and  12 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1460 miles and  1191 locks

early morning sun --- need it from behind the trees
to shine onto our solar panels!

obstacle on the River Trent section between
Wynchnor and Alrewas

some of the foot bridges on the same R.Trent section

which horn is the true directional indicator?

I wonder who he is modelled on?