Saturday, 1 August 2015

More exercise

We didn't have any very specific plans for today, so had a lazy start and finally got going at around eight. After breakfast we had a brisk walk round the marina, with a stop off at the shop for milk and cheesy topped baps, yum, and at the office to hand in a copy of our CRT licence for the file. Back at the boat we gave the cabin a good sweep through, including thoroughly brushing all the mats.

We were expecting Elanor and Sally in the afternoon and didn't want to leave any bits of grit around for her to chew. In the event, we hardly came into the boat whilst they were here as it was so pleasant to sit in the well deck and natter to our neighbours on both sides. Before that, we had another walk round as it was too hot to run Sal in the field.

We've got folk on both sides at the moment; the crew of Tigerocerous have been here most of the day getting her ready for a family outing tomorrow.

It's all been very pleasant indeed, but doesn't leave me with a lot to write about. No varnishing got done because of predicted rain this afternoon, which has just started to show up. It looks drier for tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get some done then.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Wobbly start, great finish

It's been a very good day, overall, but tiring, so apologies if this post is a bit condensed! We actually had quite a bad night, not sure why. Dinner had been a bit late because we had a very good natter with Elanor after we'd run Sally, so we were a bit later to bed than usual. No problem with that, but Sheila had a restless night and I started another spell of labyrinthitis so felt very unsettled.

My dizziness persisted into the morning. Sheila volunteered to go and let the Ocado driver in, who promptly gave us very short notice. Sheila bombed round there but, before she made it, the driver had been let in by someone else. Fortunately he'd already phoned me again so I was able to give him the directions to find Block 3.

The order was mostly ok, except for a few bruised apples. I managed to eat some lunch despite feeling a bit yucky with the dizziness and had a doze afterwards which helped a great deal. I should have mentioned that the weather has been glorious all day. Jo was volocking at Stenson and we took a walk along there, the longest Sheila has done since her op. That was very pleasant indeed, especially as we rewarded ourselves with ice cream from the cafe.

Back at the marina, we called in at the office and collected a load of parcels, socks for me, a new electronic scale for the galley, a cigar lighter to USB charging socket and the surprise prizes for the Owners' Weekend Quiz, hee, hee.

On our way back, whom should we see but Ann and Iain on Kelpie just arriving at the marina to shop at Midland Chandlers. We popped down and had a natter with them, including apologising for telling them that they could get food at the Rising Sun in Willington, where apparently they were told that food hadn't been available there for five years. This is very odd, as I distinctly recall an excellent Thai meal in that pub 18 months ago...

Heigh ho, one of those little mysteries. We're looking forward to a quiet weekend. If this weather holds, we should get some varnishing done at last.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Busy day back

Sheila has been particularly busy today getting up to date with the laundry but I've not been totally idle either. That's not to say that there hasn't been time for reading the Indy and doing the crossword, of course, but I have also done the battery maintenance that was due.

I've temporarily sorted the problem of a leaking valve in the watering system by taking the water feed to the next one along. Fortunately, the problem is on the most accessible battery, so I can top that one up manually for the time being until I can discuss it with Peter at Braidbar. I also checked the SG of all the cells in that battery, the one that suffers most from overheating. I'm pleased to say that the values were within the .005 range, just, so all is well there.

I even opened the cells on the start battery and gave them a bit of water – they weren't desperate but it's as well to keep an eye on that block, which tends to get forgotten as it gives so little trouble. Until the day the engine won't start, of course.

After lunch, we took a walk round the marina, having already done some shopping in the morning, three kinds of bread flour from the Farm Shop and cheesy topped baps from Still Waters. I also ordered a bag of Signal against the need to light the fire again this summer.

We finished the walk with an ice cream from Still Waters, the weather having improved since the morning when the wind had been very cold once more. Tonight, Elanor and Sally are coming round, hopefully bringing cheap chicken again. Tomorrow, an Ocado delivery...

Be still, my beating heart!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Here we are again

We were up and about by half six so got away not long after seven. Apart from Dancing with Dragons heading for Shobnall Marina for some work, we didn't see another boat moving until we were nearly at Willington, though the weather was quite reasonable. As we got near the marina, a number of boats from there passed us in the opposite direction, including Peter and Janet on their Sanity.

I managed the turn into the marina arm without too much trouble, then hovered whilst Dolce Far Niente left the service wharf. We only wanted diesel, so I popped onto the front wharf; had we wanted to pump out, I'd have needed to put her up the side so as to get the pump out outlet in the right place. We'd not refueled since Boot Wharf, Nuneaton, on our way back from Crick, and the tank was quite low. In fact, we got 150 litres in there, meaning that we had had 70 left.

It's no bad thing to run the tank well down from time to time, so that the fuel is kept reasonably fresh.

Having had almost no wind all morning, it came up with a vengeance now, making the entry to the pontoon quite difficult. Indeed, I messed it up completely at the first attempt, bumped Inkling's stern and had to reverse back out to try again.

This time it went much better and we are now all snug again. There's less wind too, naturally. We've had a walk round the marina this afternoon, noting that the groundwork has been done for the next three lodges and some prep done for the fourth, Graham and Chrissie's. I have taken some photos but they probably aren't of sufficient interest to be worth putting up here.

Apart from anything else, we're managing on the feeble 3 signal this week and so things are quite slow to upload. We'll now have a few quiet days in. Sheila is catching up with the laundry and hopefully I'll get some varnishing done on the sun tired areas. Assuming my eye appointment goes off OK, we should get away again on Friday week, when we'll set off for Poynton and the Braidbar Owners' Weekend.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Nearly there

The forecast looked OK this morning, though it was cool enough for us both to put fleeces on. We got away about ten past seven again and had a good run through to Branston, most of the locks with us and not much traffic about until nearly the end. One boat we did cross with was Rooster's Rest with Terry and Pam on board. They were coming up Barton as we got there and remembered that we'd had a long chat at Stone the other year.

Must say their memories are better than mine! I recognised them and the boat but couldn't have told you when we last saw them. Anyway, it was good to see you again, good cruising, folks.

As we arrived just before ten, the wind started to get up and has been blowing quite strongly since, with the odd splash of rain to boot. We managed a walk round the lake after lunch but otherwise have been lurking on board. Strangely, the 3 signal was fine when we got here and is still showing three or four blobs on the iPhone now, but the data connection has slowed right down since three o'clock, not something we've seen since leaving these parts.

The implication is that they are data throttling round here but not elsewhere in the country.

Sheila has asked for chicken tagine tonight. It's so long since I cooked it, I had to look it up in Practically Cooking On Board. Coming back to that book, I'm quite impressed with the job I did of it. I'm really not sure why it didn't sell better than it did when we offered it on Amazon.

Tomorrow, on into the marina unless the weather turns nasty overnight.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Heading for home

With around three hours boating to do, we set off just after seven this morning, the time between ten and eleven being optimum for getting a mooring at Alrewas. It was a bit overcast with the sun trying to break through by shining under the edge of the cloud. As I looked back at one point, the light had caught the cooling towers and stack of Rugeley power station in dramatic fashion. A latter day Omar Kayyam might have written

Awake! for morning in the bowl of night

Has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight

And lo! the Hunter of the East has caught

The Rugeley smokestack in a noose of light.

OK, maybe not.

It was a pretty straightforward run to Woodend which we reached almost exactly an hour after setting off. The lock was full so I was able to go straight in after Sheila had swung the top gate. Down and through we went and on to Shade House which, like all the subsequent locks, was against us. Nonetheless we made good progress with some traffic beginning to appear in the opposite direction.

There was a boat ahead of us at Keepers which proved to be Ann and Iain on Kelpie, the renamed Prairie Crocus II that they've not long acquired. We only had time for a brief chat as there were boats on the move both ways by now. We got to Bagnall just before half ten, so three hours cruising and a bit of waiting time for boats to use locks in the opposite direction. No problem finding a space here. We had a coffee and filled the time before lunch with some emailing and similar online work.

Since lunch we've been shopping, Co-op and butcher, and I've made some bread dough which is presently proving in the shape of eight baps. The forecast is not too bad for tomorrow, so we'll probably head on down to Branston and carry on to Mercia on Wednesday.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sedentary Sunday

It was dry overnight and into the morning, such that we began to wonder if we'd decided to stay put today unnecessarily, but it was pleasant to loaf in bed a bit longer than usual and to have a leisurely breakfast, so we weren't too worried. After eating, we took a walk along the towpath for a bit to get some exercise at least. After a couple of bridges, the first fine drops fell and we turned for home.

It took the rain a while to really get going, but it's been tipping it down for much of the day and quite cool with it. There's been a steady procession of boats going by with steerers well wrapped up against the onslaught. We spent the morning reading and doing puzzles, though as Sheila has an order for some more porthole doilies from an existing customer she makes sure that she does at least one full round of crochet on the current one each day.

After lunch it was chilly enough to light the stove again, using the very last of our solid fuel. I may pick up a couple of wrapped homefire type logs in Alrewas if the Co-op has some, just to make sure we don't need to light up again before we get back to Mercia.

More reading and the like has filled the afternoon, together with some beta testing by me of a new version of the CWDF site that's in development. After I've done this post, I'm going to set up an Ocado order for next Friday. We should be back in the marina either on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on whether we take one day or two from Alrewas.